2012 Prediction: Big Switch Networks
I’ve talked to many industry veterans who say that 2011 is one of the most exciting years for networking. If this is the year that people have been excited about what’s possible, then 2012 is going to be the year that they’re excited about what’s actually available for deployment.
Here are my three predictions for 2012:
Scale-out Distributed Virtual Switch Will Grow Beyond Hypervisor
In the past few years, Hypervisor virtual switch has made a huge impact in the data center and cloud; the virtual switch concept has also existed on physical gears but with limited scalability and a limited support matrix. In 2012, enterprise customers will start seeing a new generation of virtual networking that spans across large scale and heterogeneous physical and virtual network devices and ports.
In the enterprise, the reality is that server silo and network silo have and will continue to exist. They’ll eventually blend over the time. The physical network technology is lagging behind in terms of flexibility and programmability and must leap forward to match the infrastructure agility on the server side.
Physical switch virtualization, especially when integrated seamlessly with Hypervisor virtual switch, will enable enterprise customers to manage, provision, monitor, secure and troubleshoot the network end-to-end.
OpenFlow Footprint Will Be Expanded into Enterprise Networks
OpenFlow has had good traction within academics and super large data centers. But it was at Interop in May of this year where suddenly traditional enterprise networking vendors got OpenFlow fever. The incumbents shifted their mindset from "how to avoid" to "how to differentiate” on this disruptive technology.
In 2012, the OpenFlow footprint will be expanded into the enterprise because it is a fundamental enabling technology for the new generation of virtual networking. On the product side, official OpenFlow-enabled switch support is just around the corner; OpenFlow-based solutions will start demonstrating enterprise readiness, supportability, reliability and in particular:
- Influential vendors will throw their weight behind OpenSource controllers, and we will see the beginning of the deployment of OpenSource controllers in production enterprise environments.
- Commercial controllers will make their mark by differentiation in enterprise readiness, support matrix/heterogeneity, performance, applications and integration with existing management software, toolchains and workflow.
Network Admins Are the “Cool Kids on the Block” Again, Thanks to Software Defined Networking (SDN)/OpenFlow
As momentum for SDN/OpenFlow increases, the physical network will become far more intelligent, agile and sexy thanks to automation and feature velocity that SDN/OpenFlow bring to the game.
Some access layer functionality is moved over to the server-land, but at the same time new capabilities will start making network admins the “Cool Kids on the Block” again. For instance with multi-tenancy and virtualization, network admins can fulfill the business networking needs without touching physical topology or configuration; with end-to-end troubleshooting, network heroes can pinpoint application connectivity and performance issues just in time.
When the network admins can address the business needs promptly and take a thought leadership role in transforming the next generation data center, they will be the “Cool Kids on the Block” again.
In summary, we are starting an exciting journey towards network virtualization, openness, multi-tenancy and end-to-end visibility in 2012!