Cloud is to 2011 as Rethinking Networking is to 2012

Cloud computing is an amazing revolution that continues to challenge conventional IT paradigms while offering a blistering pace of innovation.  While we’ve seen dramatic changes within virtualization, compute, and storage, the disruption within networking may provide the real fireworks.

As many of you already know, I am a big fan of the OpenFlow/Software Defined Networking (SDN) movement.  In fact, I’ll be blogging more about OpenFlow in the coming months.  Additionally, the OpenStack project Quantum that is lead by Dan Wendlandt, is of great interest and has the backing of none other than Cisco.  However, the OpenFlow and Quantum projects are in their infancy and have more than their fair share of detractors.

The folks at Nicira are looking to do for networking what VMware (virtualization) did to the O/S by decoupling the network services from the underlying physical hardware.  While this is a monumental task, I would not discount Nicira; they are run by Steve Mullaney (Palo Alto Networks, Cisco, Force10) and are backed by Diane Green (founder of VMware), Andreessen Horowitz and others.  Additionally, Cisco has announced a similar “network hypervisor” initiative that is based on their acquisition of LineSider.

In the meantime, there are some innovative technologies coming from Brocade, Cisco, and Juniper (BCJ) as well as newcomers such as Arista Networks.  BCJ are pushing various definitions of fabrics that are loosely based on TRILL (transparent interconnects of lots of links).  These fabrics seek to flatten the datacenter while providing improved performance, scalability, and management.

Arista’s combination of a low-latency packet processor and lossless fabric has created quite a stir within the industry.  Add CloudVision, a network O/S that utilizes a XMPP message-bus and you have the makings of a real SDN.  Another fascinating element of Arista is their relationship with Piston Cloud Computing.  Piston Cloud provides Piston Enterprise OS that is based on OpenStack.  This is defiantly something to watch for 2012.

What new networking technologies are you watching or researching for 2012?  How will you deploy, manage, and monitor these new technologies.  Don’t procrastinate…investigate!


Image via Matthew Wynn



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