Category Archives: SDN

Software Defined Networking: Improved Compliance & Customer Experience

Software Defined Networking Upgrade

Check out the infographic below to learn about how GreenPages recently helped a global billion-dollar banking client provide more flexibility and support business scalability with a software defined networking upgrade. While also meeting strict compliance mandates around micro-segmentation. If you are interested in learning more, check out the full summary here:

Engagement Summary: Software Defined Networking

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Software Defined Networking

By Jake Cryan, Digital Marketing Specialist

AT&T expands NFV and SDN offering worldwide

business cloud network worldAT&T has expanded its Network on Demand solutions to now include 76 countries around the world, reports

The new service is built on the company’s software-defined network technology, and claimed to help businesses deploy a single universal piece of equipment, choose virtualized functions and set them up in different countries. The service would appear to be designed to simplify the process of buying and adding network functions, reducing the reliance customers have on hardware.

“Building networks by deploying network functions in software is a major shift in network design,” said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and International. “We’ve broken through traditional, cost-prohibitive barriers. Our software platform delivers a simple, flexible and efficient experience for any business, virtually anywhere and anytime they need it.”

The service was initially launched in 2015, with AT&T claiming it now has more than 1,200 businesses signed up to the service. 76 countries are now supported by the service, with capabilities including Juniper Networks virtual routing, Cisco virtual router, Fortinet virtual security, and Riverbed virtual WAN optimisation. The service is the third the company has launched on the SDN platform.

The launch builds on wider trends within the industry as telcos aim to utilize the flexibility and speed of SDN and NFV to recoup lost revenues. Traditional revenues streams of voice calls and text messaging have been slowly eroded in recent years, as more customer switch to OTT services such as WhatsApp. Creating new services for business customers is generally regarded as critical if the industry is to avoid being relegated to the likes of utilities.

It would appear to have been a busy couple of weeks for the AT&T team who also made a couple of new announcements last week. On the enterprise side of things, the team it was adding faster internet speeds, up to 1 Gbps, for business customers using the AT&T Business Fiber service. On the consumer side, AT&T also announced it has reached the trial phase of its national drone programme, which focuses on how AT&T customers can benefit from drone-based solutions, including providing enhanced LTE wireless coverage.

What is the role of SDN in data centre security?

Door to new opportunitySoftware Defined Networking (SDN) is a breakthrough which is seemingly in everyone’s technology roadmap, but not ‘sexy’ enough to command column inches in recent months. At Telco Cloud, Juniper Cloud Automation Architect Scott Alexander argued the use case for security.

Companies who are striving towards 100% secure are likely to be disappointed as most within the industry now accept this is not achievable. Irrelevant of how many advances are made to secure the data centre, there will always be a collection of individuals who dedicate time to find new weaknesses. The new objective for the majority is to remain as secure as possible, consistently, reacting as quickly as possible to new threats which may emerge.

One of the main challenges for the data centre is the traditional defence. A number of data centres have one large firewall around the perimeter, which can be effective at keeping out threats, but on the occasion one breaches defences, traditional data centres are very linear, allowing the threat to roam freely. Larger segments of the data centre will be ring fenced, however the same principle applies here; once you crack that defence you are once again free to roam.

Alexander highlighted once you write various SDN policies, you can define which applications can ‘talk’ to each other. Until this is defined through an effective SDN policy, an application can talk to any other application, create the free roaming problem. Once a threat is in the data centre damage control becomes very difficult.

If every application is a room with several doors, Alexander said though implementing SDN you can keep relevant doors open and close doors to areas a given applications has no need to have access to. Spinning up various applications allows you to retain internal perimeters and create a policy of damage control.

Virtualizing a company’s assets can be a painful process, as it has to be done application by application. This however can be an advantage as Alexander highlighted to understand what doors are open and closed, you have to analyse the applications individually; there isn’t currently a method to do a blanket risk assessment of your applications. As you are migrating the applications individually any case during the virtualization efforts, it shouldn’t be too much of a task to understand what doors are open.

For the most part, the concept of 100% secure has seemingly been irradiated from the industry; most have accepted it is almost impossible. However, segmented security can aid a team in driving towards the objective of remaining secure as possible, consistently.

SDN on the rise and cloud still not understood – survey

Dollar SignsResearch from Viavi Solutions has indicated SDN technologies are on the rise within enterprise organizations, but there also might be a number of organizations who are implementing the cloud for the wrong reasons.

In its ninth annual State of the Network study, the team highlighted enterprise organizations are increasing deployment of 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE), public and private cloud, and software-defined networking technologies. Two thirds of respondents indicated they had some kind of deployment in the production environment, and 35% have implemented SDN underlay.

“There is a growing trend of enterprise customers realizing how they can improve the operations of their network,” said Steve Brown, Director of Enterprise Solutions at Viavi. “It’s been a slow burner, but SDN is beginning to break through into the mainstream. While encouraging, the statistics are a little higher than we expected. After comparing the adoption rates from the last couple of years, we expected SDN to be around 50%, but the survey does highlight some real momentum in the industry on the whole.”

The findings also highlighted that while cloud adoption is continuing to rise, 90% have at least one application in the cloud and 28% said they have the majority, there is still a level of immaturity in understanding the perceived and realized benefits of cloud computing. Lower operating costs was listed as the top reason for the transition at 63%, while the faster delivery of new services and the ability to dynamically adapt to changes in business demands were the least popular reasons, both accounting for 39%.

“If you look at what the chief benefits which people are seeing, we’re seeing a lot of feedback on the CAPEX/OPEX reductions,” said Brown. “This is great, but that’s not really what the point of cloud is. Expenditure reduction is something which the top decision makers in the business want to see, it’s more of a tactical play. If this is the end objective these companies are not really seeing the promise of cloud and what makes me excited about cloud.

Deploying cloud

Top reasons for adopting the cloud

“The areas which I see the key benefits are the ones which are lowest on the results, delivering services faster and dynamically changing to meet the needs of the business. I found it quite surprising that these were quite low. The results show that the decision to enter the cloud for the majority of consumers is more tactical than a strategic decision.”

One conclusion that can be drawn from the findings is a lack of understanding of what the cloud can offer. Gartner’s ‘Cost Optimization Secrets’ highlighted the average cost reduction for companies implementing cloud propositions was just over 14%. While this is encouraging, whether cloud adoption would remain an attractive option for organizations if they knew expenditure would be reduced by just 14% remains to be seen.

“There’s more than just cost saving when adopting the cloud,” said Brown. “Are there savings, absolutely, but the majority don’t come upfront. If you’re going to be running applications which could see aggressive spikes, the flexibility of and agility of the cloud will reduce the cost. But at the same time it’s difficult to justify the cost savings because you may be taking on new projects due to the fact you have the ability to scale your capacity at a moment’s notice.

“Rather than thinking about it as a cost saver, hybrid cloud should be seen as an initiative enabler. Until this idea is recognised by the industry, adoption may continue to struggle to penetrate the mainstream.”

For Brown and the team at Viavi, the benefits of cloud computing are focused around the business capabilities which are enabled in the medium and long-term. Cloud offers companies the opportunity to react to diversifying market conditions faster and ensure products remain relevant on an on-going basis.

“In my own personal opinion, I would like to see people embrace a hybrid cloud model because it enables them to develop competitive edges,” said Brown. “This also justifies future investment in technology, it moves these new concepts and implementations from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’ as technology will then be one of the supporting pillars of the business strategy. Cloud has the ability to do this and to be a competitive enabler.”

Verizon launches NFV OpenStack cloud deployment over five data centres

VerizonVerizon has completed the launch of its NFV OpenStack cloud deployment project across five of its US data centres, alongside Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat.

The NFV project is claimed to be the largest OpenStack deployment in the industry and is currently being expanding the project to a number of domestic data centres and aggregation sites. The company also expect the deployment to be adopted in edge network sites by the end of the year, as well as a number of Verizon’s international locations, though a time-frame for the international sites was not disclosed.

“Building on our history of innovation, this NFV project is another step in building Verizon’s next-generation network – with implications for the industry,” said Adam Koeppe, VP of Network Technology Planning at Verizon. “New and emerging applications are highlighting the need for collaborative research and development in technologies like NFV. We consider this achievement to be foundational for building the Verizon cloud that serves our customers’ needs anywhere, anytime, any app.”

Verizon worked with Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat to develop the OpenStack pod-based design, which went from idea to deployment of more than 50 racks in five data centres in nine months, includes a spine-leaf fabric for each pod controlled through a Neutron plugin to Red Hat OpenStack Platform. The multi-vendor project uses Big Switch’s SDN controller software managing Dell switches, which are orchestrated by Red Hat OpenStack platform.

“Dell’s Open Networking initiative delivers on the promise of bringing innovative technology, services and choice to our customers and Verizon’s NFV project is a testament to that vision,” said Tom Burns, GM of Dell’s networking business unit. “With the open source leadership of Red Hat, the SDN expertise of Big Switch and the infrastructure, service and support at scale from Dell, this deployment demonstrates a level of collaboration that sets the tone for the Open Networking ecosystem. This is just the beginning.”

VMware NSX and Cisco ACI: NSX Now Supported on ACI (We Were Right!)

In May of 2015, we did a video around VMware NSX vs. Cisco ACI. As part of that video, we made the prediction that VMware NSX and Cisco ACI would not be an either/or discussion in the future (I also did a webinar on the topic that you can download here). At the time, the common question we were getting from clients was if they should be using NSX or ACI. My opinion was that Cisco ACI quite well complimented the feature sets of VMware NSX and that one could really support the other.

Now let’s fast forward to last month (February 2016) to Cisco Live Berlin where an announcement was made that supported just that idea. In  sessions at the conference, they talked about a number of overlay networks in Cisco ACI and specifically mentioned VMware NSX. So what are these use cases? I’m planning on doing a series of videos to explore the topic further. The next video will discuss heavily utilizing Cisco ACI with an overlay of VMware NSX. After that, we’ll look at the opposite – more heavily leveraging the feature sets of NSX on top of the fabric automation feature sets that exist in ACI.

VMware NSX and Cisco ACI: NSX Now Supported on ACI

Watch on GreenPages’ YouTube channel


Download Nick’s on-demand webinar, VMware NSX vs. Cisco ACI: When to Use Each, When to Use Both


By Nick Phelps, Moonrock Consulting, a GreenPages Alliance Partner

BT uses Cisco IWAN tech for new SDN namaged service

BT cloud of cloudsBT has launched a new managed comms service that uses software defined networking techniques to automatically optimise network traffic, reports

The BT Connect Intelligence IWAN service will, it claims, cut networking costs, boost app performance and tighten security for clients. It unveiled the Walgreens Boots Alliance as a reference customer, which runs in the UK and 20 other countries. Clients can use IWAN as a bridging stage in its transition to full network function virtualisation and software definition in the cloud, it claims.

BT’s IWAN was created by integrating Cisco’s Intelligent WAN (IWAN) service within the BT Connect portfolio of network services. The new offering is a hybrid of public and private cloud and uses Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology to create virtualised functions such as application performance management and security.

Among the new options offered in this first version of Connect Intelligence IWAN will be a        Virtual Private Network (VPN), fast track application routing, higher rates of app performance and better intelligence on how the network is operating.

The VPNs will be created using MPLS technology and will secure interconnections across hybrids of private and public cloud, as well as fixed line and mobile networks. Meanwhile, despite the powerful levels of encryption set up by the VPNs, information from applications will be fast tracked across the network by the quickest possible route, thanks to intelligence based on real-time network performance. The faster performance of applications will improve productivity and user experience, claims BT. Meanwhile SDN will allow the service provider to gives customers deep insight into their application and network performance, BT claims. The telco claims customers can self-manage their networks through BT’s My Account portal.

The use of NFV and SDN paves the way for a new generation of services that are quicker and easier to set up and change, according to Keith Langridge, VP of network services at BT Global Services. “Customers all over the world can now deal much more effectively with their increasing bandwidth and traffic optimisation demands,” said Langridge.

Big Switch Networks wins $48.5M to bring SDN to telcos, data centres and enterprises

Network Function VirtualisationSanta Clara based software defined networking vendor Big Switch Networks (BSN) has won another $48.5 million to bring its bare metal networking fabrics to new markets, reports

The networking specialist, which has now received $93.5m since its launch in 2010, aims to use the new cash injection to fund more R&D and to create news sales and marketing channels in the Europe, Asia Pacific, the UAE and the US.

Investors from Morgenthaler Ventures, Silver Lake Waterman, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Accton, CID Group and MSD Capital put the cash up after hearing how the company achieved 300% growth last year. Its two technology inventions have found three popular use cases among telecoms carriers, data centre companies, service providers and enterprises.

BSN offers clients a Big Monitoring Fabric and a Big Cloud Fabric, both of which are based on bare metal software defined networking principles, with a centralised product-specific controller managing a network of bare-metal Ethernet switches. The controller, the managed switches, and the links connecting to them form the network fabric. BSN defines the software for a centralised controller running on industry standard servers and the operating system that runs on the bare-metal Ethernet switches. The Big Monitoring Fabric, which connects networks with monitoring tools and Big Cloud Fabric, which provides software defined management of switching fabrics in data centres, have won telco and data centre clients in the US, APAC and EMEA. Its main vertical markets are telcos and IT, financial services, government, service providers and higher education.

In addition to the extra funding, BSN announced that it has recruited former NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven and venture capitalist Gary Morgenthaler, who have both steered companies through the transition that comes with rapid expansion.

According to IHS Research, the percentage of users of software defined networking in enterprise communications will grow from 6% to 23% in 2016. It also estimates that spending on data centre networking will reach $13 billion in 2019, up from $781 million in 2014.

“Nobody can ignore the advantages of software defined networking,” said Shawn O’Neill, MD of one Big Switch’s venture partners Silver Lake Waterman.

Big Switch is fundamentally changing the economics of data centre networking and SDN, claimed  another investor, Mike Volpi, a partner at Index Ventures. “This financing will fuel significant go-to-market acceleration and geographic expansion,” said Volpi.

Cisco promises breakthrough software for cloud-scale networking

Network ExpansionCisco claims it has invented a way to integrate and simplify web scale networks to make them twice as cost effective and much more scalable.

The networking vendor has worked with the world’s top hyperscale web companies to help service providers create faster simpler clouds from its IOS XR network operating system using popular IT configuration and management tools.

By making networks more programmable they can create a form of liquidity in cloud services that will allow providers to pool and converge their data centres and wide area network (WAN) architectures, it claims.

As a result of its collaboration, new features will appear in Cisco’s IOS XR software which, it claims, would halve the cost of running today’s network over the course of five years (under the present circumstances) by doubling network efficiency and performance.

However network running costs for cloud operators are expected to soar in future due to predicted surges in data demand. Total global data centre traffic is projected to triple by the end of 2019 (from 3.4 to 10.4 Zettabytes), according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index figures for 2014-2019. With 83% of total data centre traffic expected to come from the cloud by 2019 the improvement in manageability will help to rein in soaring costs, according to Cisco.

The investment in IOS XR will also help cloud and data centre operators to make a smoother, less expensive, transition to cloud-scale networking in future, Cisco claims.

Cisco IOS XR software, which is currently run over 50,000 live network routers, will benefit from a number of technical improvements, including new modularity, more service agility and higher levels of automation convergence with third-party application hosting.

Cisco said its software development kits and the DevNet Developer Program Cisco will encourage service providers to create large-scale automation and predictable network programmability, with higher levels of visibility and control. The aim, says Cisco, is to cater for any data model, any encoding method and any transport method.

“The network is cloud computing’s final frontier, at technology, people and process levels,” said Laurent Lachal, senior analyst of infrastructure solutions at analyst Ovum.  “It needs to be built for scale and ruthlessly automated.”

OpenStack Liberty release features enhancements for SDN and containers

OpenStack SummitThe twelfth release of OpenStack will tackle the cloud software toolset’s size limitations and will offer new options for software defined networking, says the Openstack Foundation.

The new version, Liberty, will help cloud software builders to create more manageable and scalable enterprise services with ‘the broadest support for popular data centre technologies’ the foundation says.

The OpenStack Foundation says Liberty was designed in response to user requests for more detailed management controls. OpenStack has also been criticised for its inability to step up to large scale installations. As a result, its operating core has been strengthened and its production environment will include more powerful tools for managing new technologies, such as containers.

Improvements include a new common library adoption, better configuration management and a new role-based access control (RBAC) for the Heat orchestration and Neutron networking projects. These control improvements, which were specifically requested by cloud operators, will allow them to fine tune security settings at all levels of network and orchestration functions and APIs.

OpenStack’s scalability challenges are to be tackled with an updated model to support very large and multi-location systems. The foundation also promised that Liberty users will see better scaling and performance in the Horizon dashboard, Neutron networking Cinder block storage services and during upgrades to Nova’s computing services.

Liberty also marks the first full OpenStack use of the Magnum containers management project. Magnum will support popular container cluster management tools Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm. Magnum aims to simplify the adoption of container technology by tying into existing OpenStack services such as Nova, Ironic and Neutron. Further improvements are planned with new project, Kuryr, which integrates directly with native container networking components such as libnetwork.

The Heat orchestration project promises ‘dozens’ of new resources for management, automation and orchestration of the expanded capacity of Liberty.

1,933 individuals across more than 164 organizations contributed to OpenStack Liberty through upstream code, reviews, documentation and internationalization efforts. The top code committers to the Liberty release were HP, Red Hat, Mirantis, IBM, Rackspace, Huawei, Intel, Cisco, VMware, and NEC.