Google to release SDN management model

The industry talks a lot about the network data plane and the network control plane, but it tends to hand wave over the management plane in SDN. The management plane is extremely important, however, because it defines how services and applications are orchestrated. In order to run a large infrastructure, you need abstraction. In order to implement abstraction, you need models. Those models don’t exist in the network layer today. The network configuration and network topology models are essential to Google in its efforts to build multi-layer, vendor-neutral networks that allow carriers who swap traffic to do it more optimally and improve the end-user experience.”
Bikash Koley
, principal architect and manager of network architecture at Google, as reported on LightReading.

The comment above is so true. As is often the case, the network equipment providers are focussing on the devices and the management layer is almost an afterthought. This provides an opportunity for the OSS vendors, which I’m sure most are already working hard to grab with both hands.

Interestingly, it’s not just the OSS vendors who are looking to leverage the SDN management opportunity. As also stated on the link above, “Google will make its models public, most likely this summer, and open for discussion in standards bodies, most likely starting with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) . The models are based on protocol buffer, a structured data format developed by Google that has an open format and has been published for general use.”

Keep an eye out for Google’s models. It will be interesting to compare and contrast with what the vendors and standards bodies are currently working on.

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2 Responses

  1. What problem is Google trying to solve. Data models have been defined by ITU and TMF. Too complicated? Too limited? Or the “wrong” standards bodies?

  2. Hi Roland,
    A very interesting question that I was wondering too.
    The standards bodies are still working their way through the challenges that virtualisation, SDN and NFV present. I believe I’d be right in saying that each of these standards is more advanced on the “networking” side and only just starting to build momentum on the “management” side.
    There’s one big advantage that Google has over the standards bodies. Google is a single organisation that has a business problem that it must overcome, so it assigns implementers to the task every day to resolve it. Standards bodies are the voice of many organisations with a range of business problems so they are tasked with achieving a more “democratic” solution based on various “what if?” scenarios.
    My guess is that Google is seeking speed, whilst the standards bodies are seeking broader acceptance. What do you think?

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