Update: The recording of Christos Kolias' keynote from the OpenDaylight Summit February 4-5, 2014 can be found here.
The promise of software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to alleviate complexity and improve agility is achievable and has already been deployed in many cases, but there are still challenges to overcome for SDN and NFV to become ubiquitous. So how do we get there?
Ask Christos Kolias, senior research scientist at Orange. He'll have a keynote at the OpenDaylight Summit in Santa Clara, February 4-5, on how NFV envisions and promises to change the service provider landscape.
Can you give us a preview of your talk? Where does SDN/NFV go from here?
First, I would like to say that I am very excited to be speaking at the first OpenDaylight Summit, and I would like to thank the OpenDaylight Project and the Linux Foundation. My talk will cover two main areas: firstly, the things we have accomplished thus far within the NFV ETSI ISG and the ongoing work with respect to achieving our set objectives and our live vision what should come next, Secondly, I will talk about some of the exciting work and Proofs-of-Concept (PoCs), that we are focusing and working on within Orange. Orange is a global service provider and operator offering a wide spectrum of services, ranging from mobile to online content/IPTV and cloud services, thus there are a lot of areas of potential benefit. I will conclude with some rather random, if not radical, thoughts about the future, but for this one you will have to attend my talk!
What do you think the biggest stories will be for the networking industry in 2014?
The emergence of the "white box" network switch, driven and enabled especially by new technologies such as SDN and NFV, presents a lot of interest and promise. Demand for them will pick up once “white boxes” are proven as a viable (operationally) solution and alternative (and should this happen, it would be interesting to see what kind of shockwaves it will send). Note the software is the common theme, common denominator if you like, between NFV and SDN in what I call the “softwarization of networking." Network programmability is a great tool. White boxes in conjunction with open source efforts, that alone could signify a new paradigm shift, can both lead to the complete commoditization of the network infrastructure. Actually companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are almost there already. This will certainly present a challenge (and a significant cultural departure for traditional carriers and operators but also for enterprises such as financial). Open source is becoming very relevant to us, where it is not just about CapEx and OpEx savings (which remain huge drivers) but also, and most importantly from my perspective, the flexibility to architect and deploy “new stuff." Now since most carriers lack the kind of software engineering resources required to build certain things, open source becomes even more appealing and enticing.
From your perspective, where can SDN/NFV really shine this year?
It would be interesting to see PoCs across the board involving both technologies, namely NFV and SDN, that would capitalize on the advantages of what both SDN and NFV bring and accentuate and showcase their benefits, using a common platform (and we are keen within Orange to pursue such opportunities). This would be like “killing two birds with one stone” sort to speak (and I do not want to be insensitive here). My vision of NFV is where we can envisage and develop new stuff - apps (applications/appliances – think of a net apps store), services, functions, systems – that were improbable or unimaginable before, while current paradigms, as we know them, collapse and give way to new architectures. NFV not only moves but rather eliminates certain boundaries and complexities (physical and mental) and can set the framework for real out-of-the-box thinking.
What is the future of SDN/NFV and where does OpenDaylight fit in?
We have said since the first day, actually when we published our first white paper, that NFV and SDN are highly complementary - and thus not orthogonal - although not relying on one another. We believe they are synergetic in a few areas such as management and orchestration, which is of particular importance to us, within NFV. Open Daylight and the Linux Foundation can be very instrumental in fostering an open ecosystem for advancing NFV and SDN to thrive. Open innovation is one of the three circles in the now well-known venn diagram in our first NFV white paper (incidentally the other two were NFV and SDN). In this open, collaborative, transparent ecosystem (for open innovation and open development) big market players, startups, carriers and service providers (the last two clearly representing the “users'” perspective) can all play an important role, with one key objective, in my mind: to empower the final receiver of technology, the consumer, the one who uses a mobile device today to carry out his personal and business tasks. We are looking forward to working closely with the OpenDaylight Project and the Linux Foundation.
Christos Kolias is a senior research scientist at Orange Silicon Valley (a subsidiary of Orange). Christos is a founding member of the ETSI NFV group and he has served as the first chair of ONF’s Wireless & Mobile working group. He has lectured on NFV, SDN and OpenFlow at several events. Christos has more than 15 years of experience in networking, he is the inventor of Virtual Output Queueing (VOQ) used in packet switching and holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA.