I know my title is a little leading, but honestly I’m not here to tell you that SDNs (software defined networks) are not useful, absolutely not. Software Defined Networking was created to solve a real problem that exists when you have a virtual compute environment and your VMs and other network devices are in constant motion. The amount of work that an SDN can save in a large environment like this can be considerable. In addition, SDNs hold the potential to really revolutionize the networking space by separating out the control and data planes of the network and allowing for low cost, commodity based networking hardware to be used with a centralized control plane. This is similar to the economic value proposition that server virtualization has brought to us. So I’ll ask the question the way my kids would. Are we there yet? Gartner would tell you that we’re probably nearing the peak in hype for technologies like OpenFlow so naturally we at SolarWinds get asked the question – what are you doing about SDNs? Or sometimes the more direct and flattering version – you guys have to be leading the movement on SDN management!
So what are we doing about SDN? Well those of you who know us will take comfort in knowing that we are watching the SDN market very closely. In addition, we are collaborating with a few of the new networking vendors around interoperability, but we’re not feeding the hype by marketing SDNs – we’re sticking to solving the practical problems of today. These are of course the problems that you, our users, are asking us to solve – like ‘how do I do a config backup on this fancy new switch?’
But beyond the practical we believe that there’s a strong role for SolarWinds to play in a hybrid SDN/non-SDN network as well as a pure SDN network. We’ve always been able to monitor and manage what’s happening at the data plane and we’ll continue to do that SDN or not. In the control plane the problems of management are ill-defined, mainly because early adopters of the technology are willing to put up with a lot of pain for the benefit of being on the cutting edge and learning. As a result few problems elevate themselves to the point of being real management pains. As the adoption of SDNs grows however we expect to hear from more customers about where the problems are and how they’d like them solved and when we do you can rest assured that we’ll be adding features into our products like Network Performance Monitor and Network Configuration Manager to make your life easier. So for today we’ll stick with the basics I alluded to above (how do I backup a config), because as you all know we at SolarWinds are driven by the Market (i.e. customers) not the Marketing!