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The 7 Truths of SDN

by BobMuglia on ‎01-16-2013 01:23 PM

Last Thursday, I published a blog entitled “The 7 Myths of SDN”.  Yesterday at Juniper’s Partner Conference in Las Vegas, I dispelled those myths at the beginning of a presentation called “Decoding SDN.”  For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the presentation, I thought it would be helpful to quickly outline those myths here.


Myth 1:  It’s only about data center networking


Truth:  SDN applies to all networking and network services -- from the enterprise data center & campus to service provider networks.

As organizations look to implement private cloud data centers, the static nature of networking presents acute challenges.  Because of this pain, there is a lot of focus on using SDN to enable networks to dynamically respond to cloud orchestration systems.

But SDN will apply much more broadly than that.  SDN makes sense in a large campus environment.  It also will help service providers as they evolve their networks to create more capability for their customers.  This is particularly true for edge networks – which is the place that service providers deliver value to customers, thus generating new revenue for the service provider.


Myth 2: It’s only about reducing CAPEX


Truth: OPEX reduction is more significant.

This is simple math.  Most organizations spend a lot more money on OPEX, particularly people costs, than they do on new equipment.  SDN will enable the automation of processes that are manual today, thus providing significant OPEX savings.

SDN will reduce capital costs as well but the bulk of the savings will come from automating process and thus reducing overall labor costs.


Myth 3: It’s only about software


Truth: SDN will fuel hardware innovation.

As more people do more things online, the demand for network capacity continues to grow at an astonishing pace.  The complexity and manual configuration of today’s networking software puts limits on how fast network capacity can grow.  SDN will help networks break free from the limits of today’s software.

You can think of network hardware as a software accelerator.  When you offload something into networking hardware, you can make it run an order of magnitude faster, or more.  As SDN frees networks from the limits of today’s software, the demand for faster and more capable hardware will increase.  This will provide an opportunity for the entire networking industry to further innovate in hardware. 


Myth 4: It’s only about centralization


Truth:  Considerable intelligence stays decentralized.

Centralization is a powerful concept and is one of the key principles of SDN.  Centralizing functions simplifies design and lowers operating costs.  However, networks are by nature decentralized. Remember, networking is all about moving data from one place to another – which is inherently distributed.

Even as some functions become centralized with SDN, it still makes sense to keep considerable intelligence decentralized.  That improves performance and makes the network more resilient to failures. 

The confusion about centralization with SDN reminds me of the discussions around 2000 about the Network Computer.  The idea of the Network Computer was that all of the applications moved to the center and end-user devices would be just dumb HTML terminals.  It never happened.  Instead, we have a whole new set of smartphones and tablets.  These devices rely heavily on central cloud processing – but they are also quite capable; they run applications and they do the work of providing the graphic user interface to present the data.

The same thing will happen to network devices with SDN.  Centralized functions will play a much more important role but the decentralized devices will remain intelligent and continue to provide lots of value.


Myth 5: It’s only about OpenFlow


Truth:  OpenFlow is just a protocol and probably not the most important one for SDN.

As is often the case with new trends, people have gotten confused in some ways.  One of these confusions is that SDN = OpenFlow.  SDN is a very broad and highly impactful way of building networks; OpenFlow is just a protocol – one of hundreds that are supported across networking systems.  OpenFlow will play a role in SDN, but it is not nearly as significant as some think it is.

At Juniper, we think the most important concept in SDN is “SDN Service Chaining.”  This provides a way to pull services out of network and security devices and chain them together in software.  SDN Service Chaining is an important architectural concept that can be broadly applied to the challenges of today’s networks.  OpenFlow can’t be used to build SDN Service chains, thus my view that OpenFlow is probably not the most important SDN protocol.  We will see new protocols (plus probably some extensions to existing protocols) emerge to support SDN Service Chaining. 

Juniper will support OpenFlow across our switches and routers in 2013.  OpenFlow is useful for some applications, but it is not a panacea and it certainly is not the same thing as SDN.


Myth 6: It’s going to happen immediately


Truth:  It will happen step-by-step.

I actually think it will have a more significant, long-term impact on networks than most people realize.  SDN is a major shift in the networking industry – from delivering all of the value in hardware systems to delivering much of that value in software.  This means packaging, licensing, and pricing that software separate from hardware systems.

But these things take time.  Customers have operating networks today; you can’t snap your fingers and magically transition to SDN.  You need to introduce SDN capabilities into existing networks in logical steps, typically deployed one at a time.

Juniper has defined a four-step roadmap for customers to deploy SDN within their networks; you’ll find more about those steps in a recent blog.


Myth 7: It’s going to take forever


Truth:  We will begin to see the impact of SDN in 2013.

It will take a number of years to see the full impact of SDN, but you can start right away.  The first step, Centralizing Management, is something that can begin now.  Networks today are frequently managed as individual devices; by installing a centralized management system, like Security Design – which is based on Juniper’s Junos Space management platform – you can begin to see the benefits of SDN right now. 


There’s been lots of rhetoric and confusion around SDN.  Now is the time to get past that confusion, to get clear on how SDN will transform business and begin to implement SDN within our networks.  Juniper has a clear plan to deliver SDN to the industry.  We’re the only company to clearly lay out the principles of SDN and the steps to get there.  Juniper is also the only company to define a comprehensive, usage-based software licensing and pricing model that enables you to purchase the SDN services you need, when you need them.


We’ve released quite a bit of material about SDN this week.  To learn more about the details of SDN, read my blog titled Decoding SDN.


To learn more about SDN Software Licensing, check out the Value Creation with SDN blog written by Brad Brooks, who runs marketing and business strategy for the Software Division at Juniper.


Or if you have some time, watch the Decoding SDN video which goes into a bit more detail.


Fun stuff!


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About the Author
  • Prior to Juniper acquisition, Ankur was the Founder and CEO of Contrail Systems Inc - a pioneer in standards based network virtualization and scale-out networking software. Ankur has over 15 years of experience in building world-class networking products and leading high performance teams. Prior to Contrail, Ankur served as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Aruba Networks, where he played critical roles in the rapid expansion of team, products, and global businesses. Before Aruba, Ankur helped drive Juniper’s initial entry into and expansion of the Ethernet Switching market. Ankur received his MSEE from Stanford University & BSEE from the University of Southern California.
  • I am an experienced leader in the Information Experience (iX) industry. For over 20 years, I've led information organizations at Juniper, Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle to deliver quality technical documentation and information products to customers and partners across the globe.
  • Bob Dix currently serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs & Critical Infrastructure Protection for Juniper Networks. During his career, he has served in senior leadership roles in industry and government, including serving as Staff Director for the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census during the 108th Congress. He represents Juniper on the Industry Executive Point of Contact for the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee ( NSTAC ), where he chaired the Cybersecurity Collaboration Task Force in 2009. He served as Chair of the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council ( IT SCC ) from 2008 – 2010 and currently remains a member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Dix was elected in May, 2011 as Chair of the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security ( PCIS ). He also serves on the National Security Task Force for the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the AFCEA Cyber Security Committee and Chairs the Supply Chain Assurance Subcommittee for TechAmerica. Additionally, Dix has actively worked to insure and coordinate private sector participation and collaboration with the National Exercise Program, intended to test our nation’s preparedness and resiliency. He served as Chair of the National Private Sector Working Group for National Level Exercise 2011 and 2010. In 2007 and 2009, Dix was honored with a prestigious Federal 100 Award, and was recognized in March, 2010 as the recipient of the annual FCW Industry Eagle Award. Dix also served as a local government elected official in Northern Virginia for 12 years and in his spare time coaches AAU/Travel girls basketball.
  • Jennifer Blatnik is vice president of cloud, security and enterprise portfolio marketing at Juniper Networks with focus on enterprise deployments of security, routing, switching, and SDN products, as well as cloud solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience helping enterprises solve network security challenges. Before joining Juniper, Jennifer served multiple roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., including directing product management for security technologies aimed at small to medium enterprises, as well as supporting managed services, cloud service architectures and go-to-market strategies. She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley.
  • Jerry oversees all aspects of OpenLab which serves as a catalyst to spark the development of new innovative software applications or solutions that leverage the power of SDN/network programmability and intelligence. OpenLab is unique within Juniper and with its polished facility, globally accessible lab, and educational programs – such as the SDN “hackathons,” it serves as a tool for customer, partners, and academia. Prior to this position, Jerry led the development, management and marketing of the company’s strategic partnerships for video/unified communications, optical networking, and content/media delivery. In addition to handling the day-to-day oversight of the partnerships, he established new cross-partner go-to-market processes to drive and manage joint field opportunities. Before joining Juniper, Jerry led the Lucent Technologies application hosting/service provider marketing organization. He has over 25 years of experience in the data networking field with a focus on strategic alliance development, marketing, and technical field support. Jerry possesses a BS degree in Computer Science from St. John’s University in New York. He is active as a Juniper ambassador within the technology and academic community which includes advisory board positions with both NJIT and Rutgers in New Jersey.
  • Kevin Walker is the Security Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Juniper’s Development and Innovation (JDI) organization. He is responsible for driving the security strategy both internally within Juniper, and externally with investors, partners, influencers, and customers. He provides the guidance required for JDI to conceive, develop and create momentum for industry-leading security solutions. Working closely with the Security Engineering team, Walker identifies the opportunities for improved security, growth, and innovation to deliver the scalable, reliable, and compliant security architecture needed in today’s security landscape. Before joining Juniper, Walker was VP and Assistant Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at He has served as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Chief Security Strategist and Director of Information Security across a number of notable companies including Intuit, Cisco, Symantec and VERITAS Software. With over twenty-five years in various computer science and information technology disciplines, focusing on enterprise applications, network design, and information security, Walker possesses research and engineering expertise across of range of technologies including networking protocols, securing applications at the atomic level, cryptography, and speech biometrics.
  • As Juniper’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Product Line Management, Kevin Hutchins is responsible for defining and enabling Juniper’s strategy from company vision into product execution. This includes driving the company’s inorganic growth through strategic partnerships, venture investments and acquisitions/divestitures. In addition, he is responsible for driving key strategic imperatives, including Juniper’s software strategy and transformation. Hutchins joined Juniper in 2010 as Vice President, Portfolio Management & Business Operations for Juniper’s Development & Innovation team where he led business planning, portfolio rationalization, new product introduction and execution of strategic programs across Juniper’s portfolio of routing, switching and security products.
  • Mike Marcellin is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, leading the global marketing team responsible for marketing Juniper’s product and services portfolio and stewarding the brand, driving preference for Juniper in the market, training our partners and account teams, and developing a differentiated information experience for our customers. Before joining the global marketing organization, Marcellin led business strategy and marketing for Juniper’s industry-leading portfolio of high-performance routing, switching and security products. Prior to joining Juniper in 2010, Marcellin served as Vice President of Global Managed Solutions for Verizon, where he oversaw product development and marketing of its managed IP networking, hosting, security and IT solutions for businesses around the world. He also served as Vice President of Global Product Marketing for Verizon Business, executive director of Verizon Business’ IP and Ethernet portfolio as well as leading the company’s eCRM marketing division. Marcellin began his career with MCI in 1994. Marcellin is a Board Member for the Telecommunications Industry Association and a Board Member of US Ignite, an NSF-sponsored initiative. Marcellin holds two patents and was a Rodman Scholar at the University of Virginia, where he received a bachelor of science degree with distinction in systems engineering. He is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Masum Mir is Vice President of Product, Solutions & Technical Marketing at Juniper Networks. Masum is responsible for the Switching product line, network management product line and optical technologies. Beside product leadership Masum also leads cloud strategy and solution architecture. Masum has 19 years of experience in communication and data networking industry with Expertise in Ethernet Switching, Data Center, Carrier Ethernet, Routing, overlay & network segmentation, Fabric technology & photonics technology.
  • Paul Obsitnik is Vice President of Service Provider Marketing for Juniper Networks Platform Systems Division (PSD), responsible for the marketing of Juniper’s portfolio of high performance routing, switching, and data center fabric products to Service Providers globally. Paul's team is responsible for marketing strategy, product marketing, go-to-market planning, and competitive analysis worldwide for the Service Provider segment. Obsitnik has extensive experience in marketing, sales and business development positions with a proven track record in creating technology markets. He has served in senior marketing and sales management positions at several companies including BridgeWave Communications, ONI Systems, NorthPoint Communications and 3Com. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Electrical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Obsitnik is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Pradeep Sindhu founded Juniper Networks in February 1996, and has held several central roles in shaping the company. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer, and is responsible for the company's technical roadmap as well as day-to-day design and development of future products. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for eight months when he founded the company. During that time, he played a central role in the architecture, design, and development of the M40 router.
  • Rami Rahim is Chief Executive Officer of Juniper Networks and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Rahim was appointed CEO in November 2014. Rahim began his Juniper career in early 1997, as employee No. 32, and worked as an engineer on Juniper’s first breakthrough product, the M40 core router. Rahim has progressed through a series of technical and leadership roles at Juniper, applying his engineering acumen to the design and development of Juniper’s industry-leading product portfolio. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Juniper Development and Innovation (JDI) organization, overseeing the company’s entire product and technology portfolio. His responsibilities included driving strategy, development and business growth for routing, switching, security, silicon technology, and the Junos operating system. Other leadership positions held over the years include: Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platform Systems Division for routing and switching, Senior Vice President of the Edge and Aggregation Business Unit (EABU), and Vice President and General Manager of EABU.
  • As Chief Customer Officer, Vince Molinaro is responsible for driving the strategic and operational elements of the Sales, Marketing, Partners, Services and Support functions at Juniper Networks. He leads a global organization of more than 3,500 professionals that includes direct and indirect sales, systems engineering, advanced technologies and field operations. Molinaro brings more than 25 years of professional experience in engineering, product management, marketing, sales and operations to his worldwide role. He joined Juniper in 2009 and led the strategy and go-to-market execution for the company’s global service provider business. He was named EVP, Worldwide Sales in 2013 before assuming his current role in February 2014. Prior to joining Juniper, Molinaro held senior leadership positions at a number of technology companies including Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent and Internap Network Services. He has extensive domestic and international experience having lived and managed large organizations throughout Europe and the U.S. Molinaro holds a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University and a master of science degree in electrical engineering from University of Bridgeport. He is based out of the Juniper Networks facility in New Jersey, home of OpenLab, The Junos and SDN Center for Innovation.
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