Software Defined Networking (SDN) has been an industry buzzword for some time. The promise of separating control plane and data plane, and implementing an intelligent controller has created communities of open source developers (e.g. OpenDaylight), standards development in IETF (e.g. I2RS and SFC) and spawned an entirely new approach to networking appliances with NFV to tackle topics such as network programmability and network service chains. Across the landscape, many of the use-cases in these organizations focus on mobile networks. My colleague, and Brocade CTO of Mobile Networks, Kevin Shatzkamer, thinks that SDN could be the single biggest opportunity for operational improvement in mobile networks since the transition from circuit switching to packet switching.
At MWC, I will be conducting two tech talks on Software Defined Networking for Mobile Networks in Brocade’s suite. The focus of my talk will be on the SGi-LAN, specifically network service chaining using SDN.
The SGi-LAN has historically been a static set of network appliances - such as firewalls, NATs, DPIs, etc… - that have helped mobile operators understand the traffic traversing their network, apply the right set of optimizations for that traffic and deliver new services to subscribers. The SGi-LAN is logically and topologically organized into a number of parallel service paths, each providing value to either a particular subscribers subset (i.e., enterprise customers) or a particular traffic type (i.e., video, web). In order to ensure that traffic is mapped through the appropriate service sequence, a set of static tools, including static and policy routing, virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) assignment and DHCP pooling (Source IP Match) are used.
SDN provides mobile network operators with the ability to decouple rules and topologies associated with the SGi-LAN service functions and chains from the forwarding functions. With this capability, static provisioning, assignment and sequencing of service functions within a network service chain is eliminated in favor of dynamic decision-making. Further, by incorporating metadata about subscribers, services or network conditions, intelligent and nearreal-time network service chain and forwarding decisions are possible.
As a Charter Member of the OpenDaylight Project, founded in April 2013, Brocade has been committed to delivering SDN to the industry in an open, interoperable way. I personally have been committed to OpenDaylight (ODL) since its inception, as I was also one of the original Technical Steering Committee members in the organization. Over the past 2 years the ODL Controller has evolved to become the leading open source controller platform in the industry. To this end, my team has spent the better part of the last year building the Brocade Vyatta Controller, which is the first widely available commercial SDN controller built directly from ODL code. We are proud to not only be deriving a commercial product from ODL, but also reaffirming our commitment to the project as is evident from our significant ongoing contributions to its code base, testing and management structure.
Come see my tech talk at MWC 2015 to hear my thoughts on the evolution and realization of SDN-based service chaining in the SGi-LAN.