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FCW : December 2013
opments, Lyles said. He cited programmable connections and networks and the use of dynamic circuits as examples. Dynamic circuits let organizations allocate networking resources on the y to accommodate particularly demand- ing applications. "The high-performance computing community has been setting up dynamic circuits --- layer 2 and, to some extent, layer 1 dynamic circuits --- for a number of years," Lyles said. "So dynamic circuits and the programmatic environment for setting them up are things the government is already involved in." The hurdles Like most emerging technologies, SDN faces a few obstacles. Monga pointed to network topology --- speci cally, map- ping a virtual topology to a physical one --- as an area that needs additional focus. Another gap is the manageability of SDN networks. "As the technology matures, being able to manage it and being able to build a management structure around it [are] extremely important," Monga said. For instance, technol- ogy adopters will need mechanisms for debugging SDN installations. The security of SDN networks is another eld ripe for study, he added. SDN represents a change in architecture and, because of that shift, calls for a deeper investigation of security. Activities are already in the works, including an SDN program review scheduled for December that will consider the security gap and provide recommendations for how federal agencies can deal with it, Monga said. DOE, NSF and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program will host the review. Standards are another issue. Many SDN projects use the OpenFlow protocol, but other protocols are being discussed and new ones might enter the market as more vendors develop SDN hardware. However, Monga said his prefer- ence would be to have fewer protocols. "I don't want to deal with the complexity of the choice and the variability of what each vendor implements," he said. Furthermore, cost is always a concern when it comes to network upgrades. SDN requires a programmable software layer and routers and switches designed for SDN environ- ments. So agencies would likely approach the technology in a step-wise progression. Clark DeHaven, senior director of corporate strategy at LGS Innovations, an independent subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent that focuses on federal networking, said agencies will move through the following phases: studying the technology, get- ting a handle on the security issues, exploring use cases and evaluating different solutions. Next, agencies will launch pilot projects and then slowly introduce elements of SDN. He said he anticipates a signi cant movement to SDN in the next three to six years. DeHaven said he expects to see SDN adoption unfold "much like we saw with cloud, much like we saw with mobile devices." ■ 30 December 2013 FCW.COM ExecTe c h What's driving the move to software-de ned networking Industry leaders foresee a coming boom in software-de ned net- working, fueled by: • More products. An increasing number of vendors, including some well-known names, will bring out SDN-oriented prod- ucts. Last month, Cisco Systems debuted its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller and a new 9000 Series multilayer switch line geared toward SDN, and VMware is also active in the mar- ket with its NSX virtual network product. Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions, said the participation of such companies "validates the space to a certain degree. " • The need to update networks. Industry executives say agencies will start deploying SDN when it is time to update their networks, and Sudhir Verma, chief technol- ogy of cer at Force 3, predicted that more SDN conversations will arise during the next technology refresh cycle. • The demand for exibility. SDN appears destined to land on agen- cies' to-do lists at some point. "If data center simpli cation, consoli- dation and/or cloud computing are on the top of any CIO/CTO's priority list, then SDN is inevi- table at some point, " said Patrick Stevenson, systems engineering manager at Citrix Systems' U.S. Public Sector. "It may not be this year or next, but organizations need to start preparing for it now because they will get left behind managing their costly, siloed, eso- teric networks. " --- John Moore
November 30, 2013