Embracing NFV: Open Networking and Open Daylight Summits

Over the past few weeks two major events took place in the space of Software Defined Networking: the first was the Open Daylight Summit (ODS) and most recently the fourth installment of the Open Networking Summit (ONS). Both events were held in the Heart of Silicon Valley in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The ONS attracted more than 1,500 attendees and 60 exhibitors, featured more than 40 speakers and 5 tracks spanning over three days (+1 for tutorials on a Sunday).

Keynote speakers included. Vinod Khosla, a VC pioneer and Founder of Khosla Ventures, who touched on a number of issues, including NFV and declared that SDN is the beginning of the software era;
AT&T's John Donovan, Sr. EVP talked about how SDN can help transform AT&T's infrastructure, especially in its new realm of the Domain 2.0 program;
Amin Vahdat, Google's Distinguished Engineer & Architect unveiled Google's Andromeda, a new software-defined network functions virtualization platform.

From my perspective Vahdat's talk stood out (in relevance to NFV) since I believe it was the first time that the search giant publicly demonstrated Google's interest in NFV, while he also focused on two specific use case studies within Google: cloud load balancing and network virtualization.

The conference had opened with a keynote panel around the subject of Openness, open compute, network, source (storage was not mentioned in the title but I am sure it is lurking somewhere).

As with most conferences nowadays (if there are not explicitly positioned as an SDN & NFV conference) there was, for the first time in ONS, a session dedicated on NFV+SDN synergy (unfortunately we had to compete with other parallel sessions on SDN Research and Hot Startups/VCs. Some of our ISG NFV members, Margaret Chiosi (AT&T, session chair), Tetsuya Nakamura (NTT DoCoMo), Andrea Pinnola (Telecom Italia) and Francisco-Javier Ramón Salguero (Telefonica) participated and presented on NFV use cases, POCs and NFV+SDN based Telco environments.

The 90-min session took place in a packed room (my prediction is that next year it will be a half-day track). At the closing of the conference ISG NFV Chair Prodip Sen (Verizon) participated on a panel about the "state of SDN". There was obviously a strong presence from ISG NFV members - I had the pleasure of being a panelist on an investor track.

This year at the ONS there was a lot of emphasis on SDN applications, real deployments and useability of SDN with the goal to demonstrate the promise and delivery of the technology. My takeaway is that this year's ONS was a benchmarking event.

The Open Daylight Summit that took place earlier in February was the first conference for the less than one-year old poster child (actually baby) of the Linux Foundation. The organizers had apparently underestimated the interested crowd, resulting in a standing audience of more than 600. Neela Jacques, Open Daylight Project's executive director, delivered a great presentation opening the summit where he highlighted the importance of a "collaborative community". Linux Foundation's executive director, Jim Zemlin in his keynote address emphasized the importance of "Open Source" while ODP's Chair of BoD, Inder Gopal (IBM) shared his one-year retrospective and lessons learned. The 2-day summit featured more than 40 parallel break-out sessions (wish I could have attended them all). I was honored to be a keynote speaker and a panelist for the summit, and presented an overview and current status of NFV in a presentation entitled "NFV Unbound" as to highlight the barriers, norms and constraints that NFV promises to break.

It was absorbing to observe that there was some interesting cross-pollination between the two camps, namely Open Daylight and Open Networking, with an exchange of speakers and developer tracks. Both conferences exhibited the importance of development and hands-on training (ONS had a hackathon and I bet Open Daylight will have one next year as part of its program).

All in all, I believe that both these premiere events not only demonstrated the interest in SDN but they also showcased that SDN is actually happening in many areas and in many ways. Well done ONS and ODP ! I am already looking forward already to 2015!

Christos Kolias of Orange Silicon Valley

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