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ONF Project Boulder continues working toward SDN interoperability

SDN market-watchers discussed Project Boulder's SDN interoperability trial, nine good reasons to buy white box switches and Riverbed's latest SD-WAN strategy.

Here's a snippet of what SDN analysts and market-watchers have recently been discussing: Project Boulder continues to drive SDN interoperability among software-defined networking controllers; network engineer and Packet Pushers blogger Greg Ferro presents nine reasons why enterprises should buy white box switches; and Riverbed is the latest to assert itself as a software-defined WAN company.

Project Boulder strives for SDN interoperability

Project Boulder -- an Open Networking Foundation OpenSourceSDN project -- is still working toward SDN interoperability among SDN controllers. That's what Bithika Khargharia, director of product and community management at ONF and principal engineer at Extreme Networks Inc., based in San Jose, Calif., said in a recent ONF blog post.

The foundation of Project Boulder is structured around northbound, intent-based APIs. These northbound APIs are designed to connect with multiple SDN controllers, allowing applications to inform the network of their intents -- or what they need from the network to function -- rather than telling the network what it needs to do. As Khargharia put it, the interfaces are nonprescriptive -- the network chooses how to deliver the services. Applications, therefore, are not subject to changes every time the network undergoes changes, said Dan Pitt, executive director at ONF, during Project Boulder's announcement in 2015.

Additionally, Khargharia said, Project Boulder offers runtime engines, now available with the Open Network Operating System and OpenDaylight, which can translate applications' needs into the required network language -- like OpenFlow -- which then programs the network accordingly.

The portable nature of the applications connected with the SDN controllers leads the industry closer to what Khargharia mentioned are three ultimate SDN goals: connecting networks and applications, minimizing vendor lock-in and promoting market innovation.

View Khargharia's complete thoughts on Project Boulder and other OpenSourceSDN projects.

Reasons to buy white box switches

Packet Pushers' blogger Greg Ferro recently formulated nine reasons why he recommended buying white box switches. Instead of simply focusing on the lower cost of the equipment, Ferro showcased how white box switches can change network design and operations.

At the top of Ferro's list was a faster ROI: A product that costs less obtains a faster ROI. The white box switch can be replaced more quickly, which also promotes adoption of innovative products or services. Ferro also focused on the reduction of risks -- anything from hardware bugs and software bugs to dealing with vendors. Instead of waiting for vendors to fix software bugs, enterprises can more easily switch out white box switches -- as long as they are compliant with Open Compute Project specs.

Also making the list was the ability to build new networks, or network pods, without affecting existing network designs and the freedom to move from vendor-specific command-line interface  management to one based on SDN architecture. Companies worried about dealing with multiple vendors can find an SDN framework that is device-independent, Ferro said.

Visit Ferro's post to see his complete list of reasons to buy white box switches.

Riverbed goes all in with SD-WAN

Riverbed Technology recently cast off its WAN acceleration roots and declared itself a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) company. And Drew Conry-Murray of Packet Pushers, for one, said he thinks it's a good move. Riverbed is already a leader in WAN optimization, and due to increasing interest in SD-WAN, Riverbed can begin to establish itself in the market. The company will continue to offer WAN optimization products, Conry-Murray said, but they could now be bundled with SD-WAN services. 

Riverbed will release an upgrade to its SD-WAN product, SteelConnect 2.0, next month. Among other capabilities, SteelConnect 2.0 allows users to replace legacy branch routers with Riverbed devices, using technology from both Riverbed and recently acquired Ocedo. Riverbed will be joining a slew of existing SD-WAN vendors, such as Silver Peak Inc., Cisco and Viptela -- a fact that Conry-Murray said could make it difficult to differentiate Riverbed's services.

Read Conry-Murray's post for more on Riverbed and SteelConnect 2.0.

Next Steps

Service providers are looking to SD-WAN

ONF creates OpenSourceSDN to induce SDN adoption

A list of vendors selling white box switches

Dig Deeper on Northbound applications and interface

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