SDN Design Principles for Networks

Software Defined and Open Networking as a topic of interest, crops up in close to 80% of all Data Center opportunities I engage in. Even if it is not in consideration for the immediate fabric/underlay in a green or brownfield opp, there is permeating realization that this aspect of networking should have a seat at the table, and would be a viable contender in the not too distant future.

I have a set of standard slides where I have tried to incorporate the good bits i have come across, read about, learnt from others – and felt they should feature on the slides i present during the workshops. The slides undergo frequent revision, as they should.

I am including some of the content I use for such openings, below. I hope this is of use to some of you. These points allow me a lot of flexibility during my presentations, as i can expand and contract the delivery, to anything between 10 minutes – to an hour and beyond. There is plenty to say on each of the points.

Do also have a look at the associated post, Next Generation Data Center Networking Requirements.

Standards based vs. Proprietary

  • COTS (Commodity-of-the-shelf) Hardware drives down costs.
  • Merchant Silicon vs. Custom ASICs (NPU/Chipset)

Disaggregated vs. Vertically Integrated

  • SW Vs. HW. E.g. Mainframe (HW->Apps Silo)
  • Control Plane Vs. Data Plane (Scale independence)

Modular (treat in isolation)

  • Innovate each layer in isolation (e.g. OSI – each layer tweaked independently)
    • E.g. Topological/Functional/Logical: Layer n Vs. Layer n+1.
    • E.g. Expansion Modules on switches.

Abstraction (Agility & Flexibility)

  • Programmability via consistent interface.
  • Programmability allows Integration into orchestration/apps
  • Next Gen: SAI = API to program ASIC, enabling multi-vendor chips whose SDK confirms to SAI standard, to be programmed by multiple OS.

Automation (Elasticity, Velocity)

  • Infrastructure Management. Automate Manual, repeat, routine tasks.
  • Workflows for provisioning, change Management & upgrade.

Enterprise/Production-Grade SDN

  • Feature Maturity + Parity with traditional NOS
  • External/Analyst Validation. Tested (at scale)
  • Reference Architectures
  • Customer Wins/Public References
  • Brite-box – Brand recognition, supply chain, support


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