A single vendor’s throat to choke

OpenFlow facilitates the use of “bare metal switches” and eliminates traditional vendor lock-in, giving you freedom of choice in networking like you have on other areas of your IT infrastructure such as compute and storage. SDN controllers also expose APIs northbound, which allow you to deploy a wide range of off-the-shelf and custom-built network applications — many of which were fundamentally not feasible prior to the advent of SDN.”

When writing yesterday’s article, “The blame game intensifies,” it dawned on me that perhaps traditional vendor lock-in won’t be eliminated at all when virtualised networking becomes commonplace.

Some organisations will definitely have the diverse skill-sets required to manage and operationalise a virtualised network environment. They will be excited by having the ability to architect their networks and network management solutions around standard building blocks from a range of interchangeable vendor products. But not all organisations will have resources able to leverage the power of virtualised networks with custom-built network applications.

If the intensified blame game does eventuate, I wonder whether CSPs will revert to the “single throat to choke” model and look to partner with a vendor / integrator (or small number of) that can provide accountability for the whole virtualised network. This may even extend to the promised “freedom of choice of compute,” if vendors are able to insist that their solution can only be warranted if the whole stack is built on their own hardware because it is “optimised for their solution.”

Note: “One throat to choke is an expression used in business to describe the advantage of purchasing goods or integrated services from a single vendor. That way, when something goes wrong, there is only “one throat to choke.”
The expression is sometimes compared to “putting all your eggs in one basket.” The advantage of putting all your eggs in one basket is that it makes it easier to carry the eggs. The disadvantage is that if the basket is dropped, there is the potential for all the eggs to break at the same time.”

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