“Fireworks” at OFC SDN Controller Panel

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Please be sure you hang around long enough next week at OFC 2019 to watch a unique, exciting debate during the panel of “How Centralized should Centralized SDN Control and Orchestration be?” There will be no wasted time on speaker introductions, and the number of slides per participant will be kept down to a very bare minimum. The bulk of the session will be used for an interactive disputation, including ample time for members of the audience to join in the fray, asking questions and making arguments, reflecting their own points of view.

In some cases, we will be getting into subject matter complementing the various combinations of monolithic, modular, and hybrid approaches being advocated by the participants. Some of the other intriguing and provocative aspects that will be addressed include:

  • determining the extent to which ISPs have been moving to a single, consolidated architecture group making decisions for a bunch of existing operations support systems;
  •  ensuring the survival of software vendors, given the current bedlam with standards;
  • discovering whether open-source SDN technology can really be adapted to guarantee sufficient scalability of existing operational or deployment models, without sacrificing any necessary innovations in the future, while also avoiding the introduction of security issues;
  • coming up with a credible timeframe for a potentially widespread impact of SDN for conventional telecom infrastructure accomplished in an incremental manner, especially beyond the limited greenfield deployments, which have most notably occurred in the access portion of the network;
  • developing standard ways for communication across ISPs to ensure quicker turn-up for customers; and
  • learning lessons in migrating from a completely centralized SDN controller model to more of a hybrid.

The experts on the panel themselves working for disparate types of companies, along with their other prior experiences, provide a tremendous opportunity for inherently clashing outlooks:

·      hyperscale/cloud providers vs incumbent service providers;

·      local, compact networks vs global, highly-varied operators;

·      network architectures vs service orchestration/OSS/BSS layers;

·      traditional WAN vs data center-centric network applications;

·      US vs European philosophies;

·      mentalities of router players vs transport suppliers; and

·      small, niche, SDN firms vs established, large, diversified gear vendors.

It should be a fun, energizing, and educational experience for all who attend with the promise of “sparks flying.” I am looking forward to seeing many of you there at what will surely be a memorable event, and as the objective moderator, I pledge to get involved in aggressively challenging the perspectives being expressed.

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[written by Mark Lutkowitz]