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Adding mobility to your cloud

I have just returned from presenting at the China SDN/NFV conference for the second time. In 2013, I remember explaining Software Defined Networking (SDN) and what it meant for the future of our industry. Two years later, my subject is very advanced which in many ways reflects the speed at which our customers have accepted & deployed this technology.

This year’s talk focused on workloads mobility and how they can dynamically consume network resources regardless of their location (or borders). Let me explain…

I am now based in the US and have a mobile phone with AT&T. As I traveled to China for the conference, the first thing I did when I got off the plane was turn on my mobile phone. Within seconds, I was able to make/receive phone calls, check my emails, browse the web, etc. All of this while my service provider is based in a different location (different continent really!), using different networking equipment and a network managed by different ADMIN people. The same policies & SLA were transferred from my home service provider to my new roaming provider – automatically and transparently.

At Nuage Networks, this is the objective we strive to achieve with workloads. The ability to assign network policies & SLA, regardless of its host location, regardless of the network equipment used to host that infrastructure or who administers the infrastructure. We want these policies to apply just as automatically & transparently as it does for mobile phones roaming the world.

We have come a long way with our Virtualized Service Platform (VSP). With VSP, we are already able to deliver consistent networking policies across private and public cloud and across NFV clouds from service providers. More recently, we extended our policy framework to also include branch office connectivity with our Virtualized Network Services (VNS) offering. All of this is done using our single declarative policy engine, the Virtualized Service Directory (VSD) administered by the same authorities.

Our most advanced customers are pushing us to expand this declarative policy model across different administrative domains (different ADMIN groups or different organizations). With that in mind, we are leveraging our learnings from mobile networks to duplicate some of the policy dissemination and exchange of rules among peers. For example, if I am the authority for this workload, the new hosting providers should come to me for policy declaration. That being said, many providers will also apply rules on top to comply with local laws (think of our mobile phones). So how do we provide arbitrage within these layers of policies?

We are currently investigating and working with industry leaders to define a model that would allow roaming of workloads while preserving the same policies & SLA. Social networks use Publisher/Subscriber models that scale and are simple to use. Perhaps this will become the communicating vehicle of workloads policies across different administrative domains?

One thing is certain, between the first and third edition of this same conference, the market and customer sophistication for SDN has evolved faster than anything I have previously seen in our industry. This is perhaps a result of vendors adopting standard protocols or simply because we are re-applying similar concepts learned from mobile networks, large scale IP backbone or MPLS overlays…. The future of SDN looks promising and is much closer than we think!

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