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HP frames the software-defined networking debate

By Nick Watson, Vice President EMEA Enterprise Group, HP Networking


Nick WatsonFor the last 10 years, not much has changed with the way in which network architecture has been designed.  Proprietary products operating effectively only as devices led to a proliferation of primarily single vendor networks with specialist “appliances” (firewalls, load-balancers, etc.). The resulting complexity has been a nightmare for network operations staff every time there is a change control request.   


The desired state for any network is one in which it functions as the invisible “glue” that connects the consumer or employee device with the other elements of IT infrastructure such as compute, storage, security and management. The inherent inflexibility and complexity of networks is anchor like, holding back progress to the cloud; where flexibility and the ability to make rapid change is essential.


The software-defined networking debate


Enter software-defined networking – SDN.  There is a lot of discussion about SDN, what it is, what it is not.  Some say, it is all about software, some say standards don’t matter, everyone agrees that it enables the Converged Infrastructure architecture – the very basis of Cloud.


As these debates go on, I like to draw people’s attention to the parallel of the server revolution 10 years ago and why the hypervisor was able to revolutionize the way in which people thought about servers.   Today we expect a server to be virtualised, but 10 years ago, it was the combination of excellent software, married to the widely available Industry Standard Server - ISS which really made this approach scale as it did so rapidly - without the ISS platform, the software would have been impossible to scale.


This is why SDN is really only viable when combined with OpenFlow as the open-standards hardware platform and why in 2008 HP Laboratories started looking at how simplification could be brought to networking architecture. It was the definition of a standards-based hardware platform and a standards-based management and orchestration platform that HP and Stanford University collaborated on.



The future of Networking


The future of networking is being pioneered by HP Networking solutions which enable SDN, BYOD and Cloud through open standards, virtualization, automation and convergence. 



At HP Networking we believe that today’s networks are too complex, too fragile and too rigid, and that SDN with OpenFlow – Open Standards based software - coupled with Open Standards based hardware is the only approach which really matches the needs of the new style of IT.


For more information on HP Software-defined Networking, visit 



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