Software-Defined Networking Is Harmonizing for Networking’s Future


Heather Kirksey held up her smartphone. “How often do you stare at your smartphone? How often do you use the Internet on your phone?” asked the vice president of network functions virtualization (NFV) and director at the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), speaking at the Open Networking Summit. “That’s why you have to care about open source networking. We are transforming the global telecommunications infrastructure.”

Perhaps you still think of networking in terms of hardware infrastructure: the Wi-Fi router in your office, the cables hiding in the plenum, or the Internet backbone cablethat a backhoe just ruined. However, moving forward, tomorrow’s networks will be built from open source software-defined networks (SDNs) running on a wide range of hardware including the open source Open Compute Project (OCP).

SDN and NFV started with OpenFlow in 2011. OpenFlow was based on a simple idea: to “exploit the fact that most modern Ethernet switches and routers contain flow tables (typically built from TCAMs) that run at line rate to implement firewalls, network address translation, quality of service, and to collect statistics.” With that architecture, you could create what they called “programmable networks.”

Since then, several open source projects have built on this basic idea of using software, instead of custom hardware, for networking needs. Developers, vendors, and customers are all moving forward with SDN, NFV, and related programs as fast as they can.

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