The most significant advances in recorded history are not born from dumb luck; rather they come from exploration and experimentation. In the 1870s, two inventors (Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell) both independently invented the telephone while working on “up-leveling” the capabilities of telegraphs to carry multiple messages simultaneously. This revolutionary form of immediate, on-demand, verbal communication at distance changed lives (mostly for the better, telemarketing not withstanding).
Fast-forward a century and the Internet was emerging from ARPANET, soon to change culture and commerce through packet switching. A common thread in both communications breakthroughs was the evolution of a platform into a more powerful platform through experimentation.
Today, one of our long time customers and trusted partners, Internet2 (a member-owned advanced networking consortium founded by the leading higher education institutions in the U.S.) provides the network that connects many top research and higher education institutions. Internet2 provides the capability to provision high-capacity circuits over distance, allowing researchers to collaborate via high-performance, shared access to research data.
As data sets continue to grow (a.k.a. “Big Data”), effective collaboration depends on increased network performance, but also on network agility and flexibility in support of evolving computation models. Going “fast” is important, but so are new computation models as the amount of data processed increases by orders of magnitude.
To help expedite that next giant leap, the Internet2 Innovation Platform technologies including the newly upgraded 100 Gigabit Network is amplifying what higher education institutions do best: stimulate ideas and promote active exploration and experimentation. The new platform extends the reach of the networking laboratory into the hands of researchers, practitioners and innovators to enable new, flexible ways of integrating the network into a new generation of applications.
Juniper Networks has long embraced the principles of a platform strategy, building products that are open, elastic, and capable of rapid change. To that end, community Software Defined Networking (SDN) efforts are important next steps in the evolution of Juniper’s portfolio. It’s an evolution we’re excited about given its alignment with our long-standing goals for a new network and the passionate community that has developed around SDN.
As a company, we believe that protocols, like OpenFlow, are essential initial pieces of a broader SDN framework that will collectively enable the networking industry to treat the network itself as a platform. The larger promise of SDN goes beyond control and forwarding separation, though, and makes possible the bi-directional communication between the network and applications. The result will be superior applications that benefit from “support by” and “information from” the network. And a new class of application will emerge that utilizes the network in dynamic and powerful ways.
Internet2’s Innovation Platform is a unique, disruptive set of technologies that builds upon their existing Juniper-powered 100 Gigabit Ethernet backbone network. It combines emerging SDN standards (starting with OpenFlow) with abundant bandwidth provided by the 100G network backbone. To date, 15 Internet2 member universities and six regional networks have asked to become collaborators in piloting this cutting-edge platform. The Internet2 community will also continue to evolve the Innovation Platform as more than 300 network engineers meet at Stanford University in mid-July for the ESCC/Internet2 Joint Techs meeting. They will discuss a full slate of SDN topics, including use cases and emerging best practices.
While no one in the industry has a crystal ball to see how Software Defined Networking will evolve, we are absolutely committed to enabling experimentation through support of SDN – including OpenFlow and other programmable network technologies. With a community of motivated researchers and an expansive sandbox in which to explore, truly anything is possible.
Exploring the vision for the networking industry and the issues shaping its future.