25 April 2012

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 1 Keynote

NetEvents in Hong Kong 2012 was opened with a keynote speech from Mark Pearson, HP's chief data centre and core technologist, on software-defined networking (SDN).
Pearson said that SDN is about matching the network to applications, with virtualisation as the key driver for SDN. Why would they want that?

"Customers want faster application deployment," Pearson said. "Today, network admins ask about network interfaces and need to translate the answers into CLI commands. There are lots of applications and network commands, they are slow and inflexible, and networks are not application aware."

For Pearson, enterprises and service providers alike need a service delivery layer in the network which hides the network and provides services. "What's the killer application?," he asked. "Virtualisation" was the answer.

As an example of the benefits of SDN, Pearson said that network administrators may be managing 200 applications but with SDN, instead of a configuration change for each application, they can use templates that automatically change the network setup to suit each application. "No more device by device configuration," he said. "It's the end of CLI [command line interfaces]."

How? The network administrator develops templates and can deploy them when configuring the network, Pearson said. He said it was "about making the network state be consistent with policy."

Describing SDN, Pearson said that the technology acts like a network hypervisor that performs virtualisation, characterisation and orchestration of the network for each application, such as Outlook, SAP etc.

He went on to describe HP's leadership of the Open Networking Foundation and the OpenFlow protocol, on which SDN depends. He said that OpenFlow is a standardised layer that helps administrators configure the network for applications. "We have released up 16 model applications," he said.

In summary, Pearson said that SDN was about enabling the cloud by tuning the network to application requirements using policies not scripts, and was managed with a single pane of glass.

Pearson was then interviewed live on stage by event host, journalist and NetEvents editorial director Manek Dubash.

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