Spring: Opening the Stack!

April was a defining month for Cloud and Networking people in Silicon Valley with two major events of significant impact for the industry: Open Networking Summit and the OpenStack Conference.

Open Networking Summit was a gathering of top players looking at disruptive solutions for creating smart, reliable and cheap networks. Combining the software and virtualization approaches, they are looking at a new way of making the flow over the network be the new unit of control; in other words making the network virtual and “active”. Everybody was there: network vendors, services providers and researchers from top universities. This was a great moment for the entire networking community. It reminded me of all the work we have done on active networks as far back as 1997, on flow-aware networking, and on virtual networks. After years of gestation, I can now see emerging from this powerful groundswell very credible initiatives that will revitalize networking in a significant way. There is another major consequence of this network revolution: the emergence of a new developer community for the Network – think “Linux community for the Network”.

At the same time, on the other side of the Bay Area, the OpenStack Conference was gathering hackers, fans and onlookers sharing their experience of open source code for Cloud infrastructure. The goal is as simple as it is disruptive: creating cool stuff and inventing “Linux for the Cloud”. Ubuntu was there with Juju, an amazing environment for provisioning and control of applications in the Cloud in seconds rather than hours.

May. Cloud and Software-defined Networks (SDN) will be the hot topic at Interop Las Vegas. Already identified as a top 10 emerging technologies in 2009 (see MIT publication) SDN is now on top of the agenda for giants such as IBM, Google, Avaya, Dell, HP, Intel, NEC, Juniper, Verizon, Brocade as well as the hottest next generation network players such as Arista Networks. Ten companies together with Lyatiss will be the contributors of an OpenFlow Lab allowing visitors to discover the power of Cloud and Network revolutions. Lyatiss will also be present in the Interop’s New Innovators Pavilion area to demonstrate CloudWeaver an SDN-based offering that supports smart self-service networks to Cloud applications.

The Takeaways

It seems that the Cloud revolution and Network revolution are converging in some sort of Linux style community gathering together people who understand they cannot live in silos. Importantly they understand the urgent need for interoperability in this space. This highlights the need not only for a new Cloud OS but also a need for tools for operations whether it is Ops, NetOps, DevOps, No Ops. There is a need for a common language to break down the barriers between the world of computing and the network. This common language should define and reconcile requirements and service offerings.

The Cloud is inevitable not only because it delivers economies of scale and on-demand elasticity, but also because of the momentous time and cost savings it generates. Resources are plugged in and are made available to infrastructure users in an online resource catalog. In this self-service model users simply connect to the Cloud and engage the compute power and storage space they need.

Self-service generates in time and cost savings. But how about quality of service? We believe it should be a user’s choice. As long as the Cloud (both public and private) is based on an underlying invisible network there will be with no or very poor quality of service. In today’s Cloud you do not have a choice of quality. It’s a shame! Adopting the Cloud today requires that you must continuously check the availability and health of your dynamic infrastructure. You are always in the mode of testing, testing, testing.

Another solution is to have the Cloud Network be more visible, predictable and adaptable. Open Networks can help in bringing more flexibility to the network. However visibility, insight and end-to-end control of self-service networks are still challenges.

The effect of the converging Cloud and Network revolutions will bring benefits to Users far greater than the sum of the benefits of each technology and place Users in the driver’s seat. These converging technologies, at our service, can empower us and make our life easier. For this to happen, network technology has to make the unified infrastructure smart enough to serve the real needs of Cloud users and to allow enterprises, service providers and consumers to benefit fully from the power of the Cloud.

This is Lyatiss’ focus – bridging the Cloud and Open Networks with Intelligent Cloud Network Orchestration.

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Posted by Pascale Vicat-Blanc on May 4, 2012