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Oracle Modern Data Center

Software-Defined Networking: Untangling the Spaghetti Mess in the Data Center

By John Foster, Vice President, Business Development, Systems, Asia Pacific

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a technology that allows for more agile networks by abstracting the static architecture of conventional networks into a software-controlled layer. According to a leading analyst firm, the software-defined networking market will grow from $6.2 million in 2013 to over $1 billion by 2018 in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan). Given the interest in this area, I interviewed Doan Nguyen, Oracle’s senior principal product director of infrastructure software, to get his insights into what’s now bringing this new technology into the limelight, and what it means for the channel.

  • John Foster: Are we heading into the next virtualization boom?
    Network virtualization simplifies IT

    Doan Nguyen: Yes. As more workloads are virtualized, the demand to connect those virtual machines to a range of networks and storage systems also increases. The result can be systems with a spaghetti mess of cables and interfaces on the back panel and networking configurations that remain tied to the physical network and storage. This can limit the resource sharing of the virtual systems. This is where IO virtualization comes in, and whether it’s SDN or storage virtualization, each can help customers unlock the next wave of virtual environments.

  • JF: What is driving the shift to a software-defined approach?

    DN: Cloud, the Internet of Things, and a maturing of server and application virtualization are enabling this shift. We've seen how network bandwidth needs to change according to shifting workloads, and SDN accommodates this with rapid provisioning, reconfiguration, and de-provisioning of what were traditionally fixed line services.

  • JF: How disruptive is network virtualization?

    DN: Network virtualization opens up new opportunities for customers to run their workloads in a more efficient manner and create services that are more flexible and agile. There are a number of new technology companies entering this market, as well as established vendors constantly adding functionality.

    Oracle continues to increase its investment in capabilities that make it easier to virtualize services across the whole stack, from application to hardware, and provides open interfaces to enable customers and partners to efficiently manage their technology solutions.

  • JF: With the rise of network virtualization and SDN, what opportunities are there for resellers?

    DN: The shift in virtualization—beyond compute—will open up new opportunities for resellers and ISVs. What this means is that resellers can expand their product services to include sizing and deployment of virtualized storage and networking to existing customer infrastructure to take advantage of cost savings and operational efficiencies. For systems integrators, the Oracle product portfolio provides a ready-built set of technologies using Oracle Virtual Networking or Oracle VM Templates, allowing them to expand their portfolio of services and quickly address business requirements. Oracle’s infrastructure products take care of most requirements at the infrastructure layer, so resellers and SIs can use this “tool set” to build on their value-added services and grow their business.

    Opportunities for resellers

    It can also mean that they can broaden their influence on customers, because they need to be involved sooner in the design phase of the solution and won’t just be selling to one technology group. For a virtualized data center solution, they may need to work with the client’s server, storage, networking, and security teams. Resellers can capitalize by focusing on the impact that virtual networking and storage will have on the operational lifecycle of the data center. Products and services helping to address network and storage-capacity sizing, including deployment services of virtual storage and networking, are further opportunities for monetization.

  • JF: What are the biggest challenges in moving to an SDN approach?

    DN: One of the biggest barriers can be the scope of knowledge and experience of the reseller. They may need to cover server, storage, networking, virtualization, security, and overall architecture to sell a complete solution. Some resellers may choose to team up with other vendors that specialize in an area where they have a gap, while others already have these skill sets across their different sales specialties. For these companies, it may require a shift in how they go to market because they may not be calling on individual silos within the customer.

  • JF: What impact will network virtualization have on traditional storage solutions?

    DN: With the exception of direct-attached storage, most customers use some form of network storage via a SAN or NAS. Network virtualization makes it easier to connect any virtual machine to these storage resources. This opens up new market opportunities for products like Oracle Fabric Interconnect that provides network and IO virtualization, connecting existing networking and storage elements and virtualizing via a single pipe to server systems on the connected fabric. This combines the best of SDN with traditional data center networking and storage devices.

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