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Perfection misdirection: SDN is still open and ACI is still closed

on ‎05-21-2014 08:48 AM

By Sarwar Raza, Director for Cloud and SDN, Advanced Technology Group, HP Networking


Sarwar RazaImportant Update, 1.27.15: Cisco has been talking up its SDN products at its event in Milan today, but I'm not hearing anything new; and nothing has really changed in the underlying issues of lack of true openness in Cisco’s approach. Follow us on #SwitchtoHP and #HPNetworking to keep up with the latest on HP’s open SDN innovations.


Knock knock! … Who’s there? … Usurped! … Usurped who? … Usurped SDN!

That’s a bad joke, I admit.  But so is the recent hijacking of Software Defined Networking (SDN), the best chance of open standards adoption that networking has seen in a long time.  Software’s been coming at enterprise management for a while.  Some, like HP, saw the opportunity.  Our Virtual Applications Network is proof.  Some, like Cisco, saw it as a threat.


Cisco’s marketing is the proof.

First there was the proposal for an Open Network Environment. That bought them some time, but the placeholder rang hollow. Next came the Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a fine idea until analysts and bloggers observed correctly that it was an SDN work-around, an open pose in lock-in clothes. So finally this week, we were served a hot plate of SDN-enabled ACI.  “We will be the best implementer of SDN in the world,” declared Cisco CEO John Chambers at Cisco Live.


There are many terms to describe Cisco’s play. Pivot and Red Herring come to mind.  I call it Perfection Misdirection.


HP knows better.  We’ve been pulling back the curtain for months.  Here’s what HP networking executive Bethany Mayer had to say back in November to CRN: “Having seen [Cisco’s] announcement, it confirms what we anticipated, which is that Cisco is building yet another set of boxes, and those boxes will sit in a proprietary, enclosed environment.”


It was a ruse then.  It’s a ruse now. And for customers, the Cisco sell means less choice, higher TCO and the hope that a marketecture they were promised will become the architecture they bought.  That means higher risk because your investment is not well protected.


But there’s more:  Not only has Cisco bear hugged SDN, it’s now blowing kisses at OpenFlow, the crucial box to check for any serious SDN provider.  Except, of course, that its initial support will be for an out-dated version of the protocol.


Bethany called it:  “When I say it’s a closed environment I mean it’s a Cisco controller, with Cisco gear, using Cisco proprietary protocols to access that gear.  That’s proprietary.  In the world of SDN, we have embraced OpenFlow and other open-standards-based protocols in order to access our switches and reconfigure and program them.”


With HP, you get SDN.  Not an SDN-enhanced appendage.  You get OpenFlow as it should be.  Not as it was. You get an SDN App Store, a bullet-proof SDK, and the peace of mind that you’ve invested in a vision that’s already being delivered.


Don’t take a wrong turn.  Run with real standards on real HP systems today. @SwitchtoHP.


Important Update 8.25.14 I was interested to read in a recent Bloomberg News article that some of Cisco’s own customers are asking the company to pick up the pace in the software-driven networking space “instead of just trying to sell more hardware” (see Cisco CEO Pressured by Goldman Sachs to Embrace Software). Bloomberg reporter Peter Burrows puts it pretty bluntly: “Most customers that want SDN are doing so in part because it lets them buy whatever brand of hardware they want, potentially disrupting Cisco’s ability to keep them locked in to its proprietary products.” Definitely worth a read!


>> Learn more about HP Software-defined Networking here.


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on ‎06-03-2014 12:53 PM

Hi Sarwar,

I'm a true believer that we have the most comprehensive portfolio in the industry. What I don't understand is why we are not making an even more aggressive campaing against CISCO and others.


Today, networking equipments shouldn't be sold whith just the comparison of forwarding rates, backplane, number of ports, etc. The cost per port against any networking vendor is very similar, TCO will always be an important factor in the evaluation, but, are we putting innovation on those studies?


Innovation, as SDN, help mark tendencies that will help our customers to improve business satisfaction on IT services, making that forwarding rates and backplanes become secondary terms.


I think that we, as HP, should be more aggresive on the message given to our customers, be more frontal whith other vendores, so we can make our message be heard in several ways.


Hopefully, HP will invest more in networking so the message can be delivered more efficiently.


I'm up to it and open to help in any way possible to help.

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