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January 18, 2013

Google, NTT, Verizon Use the Software-Defined Network

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

Interest is clearly growing in SDN, an architecture that separates the control and data planes of the network in an effort to make networks more app-centric.

Google (News - Alert) already is using an SDN-like solution, based on OpenFlow, that it developed itself at significant expense to more effectively interconnect its data centers, according to a report by Woodside Capital Partners, which notes that Verizon (News - Alert) is also a key proponent of SDN. “We view the Google application as a good proof of concept for SDN and the OpenFlow protocol, rather than a commercially viable solution,” according to an August report from the Silicon Valley-based investment banking firm.

David Krozier, principal analyst of network infrastructure at research firm Ovum (News - Alert), adds that there are a significant number of data center SDN deployments today, because every major university is participating in one of the research network implementations of software-defined networking using OpenFlow. It doesn’t take much work to deploy this kind of thing, he added, saying you just get a couple of switches, some software, a connection to the university network, and you have an SDN lab. In fact, he said, HP alone has more than 60 such deployments.

Meanwhile, enterprise deployments of SDN are “very small,” says Krozier, and service providers are using, or at least testing, SDN.

 “NTT (News - Alert) has been a big proponent of SDN in general, and NTT actually as far as I can tell is offering the first commercial service based on SDN,” he said. “The service is called enterprise cloud and uses an OpenFlow-enabled network to migrate virtual machines between data centers. It’s something that’s being offered in Asia today.”

AT&T has also deployed Nicira software, Krozier added, but he said he’s not clear about exactly what the telco is doing with it. The telco could’ve just been for trial purposes, he said.

As for Verizon, Krozier said that the telco is leveraging SDN technology to control the quality of experience of video on wireless networks. The service provider is using SDN to control the quality of experience for video delivery.

“There’s a lot out there about SDN and [the] data center, but I think where SDN will have a lot of impact in carrier networks is in wireless networks,” Krozier said.

The SDN event will be part of TMC's (News - Alert) ITEXPO Miami 2013 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. To learn more about SDN, join me at the Software Defined Networking pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 29 visit here.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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