Not only is it time to prepare for sending the kids back to school, enjoying that last BBQ, or snagging those last few days at the beach or lake — but, it’s also 2013 budgeting session. Numerous friends have reached out asking for guidance on what they should be putting in the network virtualization or software-defined networking / SDN budget for 2013.
It’s exciting to hear people planning 2013 SDN budgets. We’ve spoken with multiple large enterprise and service providers who are looking to perform a SDN proof-of-concept in 1H 2013 and plan to have SDN in production by 2H 2013. Before we get all lathered up envisioning big SDN budget $’s — we should consider what we’ve heard from leading CTOs, Network Architects, and CIOs on their 2013 plans:
- Focus is on small, executable projects, the demonstrate initial technology or business success.
- Use cases will be those with the least number of multi-vendor dependencies.
- Incumbent vendors are the preferred choice
Given our experience with multi-vendors switches, soft switches, and controllers at our sister company, Wiretap Ventures, we recommend organizations that desire to deploy SDN and creating SDN budgets should consider the following:
- Be specific on the use case and what you can realistically accomplish given the state of technology. Make sure what you (or your vendors) propose is achievable and that you have enough resources to accomplish your objective.
- If you’re looking at production deployment, make sure you have a plan to win over the security team. The number one hurdle we hear about for customer SDN adoption is the inability to prove that you are just as secure in an SDN network as you are in a traditional network. Given what we know about some switches, they won’t pass the basic security bar today, so vendor selection is important. Consider looking at Arista, Brocade, Dell, Extreme, IBM, HP, Juniper, and Pronto switches.
- If you plan a use case that uses OpenFlow — expect to be limited to what’s in the 1.0 spec. Our research indicates that most vendors will be limited to OpenFlow 1.0 support in 1H 2013 with some vendors planning 1.3 support in late 2H 2013. Also beware of the wide disparity of functionality in the OpenFlow 1.0 implementation between vendors. What works on one switch may not work on another.
Below is guideline we are sharing with our enterprise and service provider friends for building a 2013 SDN budget:
- Server / Switching Hardware: Allocate some hardware $’s to this budget — depending on use case this may or may not include servers or switches. We recommend allocating $25k – $50k to get started. Remember just two of the least expensive 10GB Pronto switches will set you back ~$20k. It goes up from there.
- SDN Software: Depending on your objectives and willingness to play with open source this is anywhere between $10k – $50k
- Professional Services: Our experience with various SDN products, open source projects, and technology is that you will a) need access to experts — this technology isn’t for the faint of heart; and b) expect the time to get SDN working in your environment with your apps to take twice as long as you expect. Depend on your organization and risk — you should allocate 1 X – 3X your combined hardware and software budget for professional services.
- Security: The ‘S’ in SDN is software — treat SDN like any enterprise software project — and invest in the security scans (l.e. Qualys), security audits (i.e, WhiteHat), and involve your security team early on, so you get their blessing to meet your 2H 2013 deployment schedule. Expect to spend $10k – $50k before you enter production
- Training: Once you have this installed SDN, it will require all of the care and feeding of your other technologies — Make sure your staff is able to operate your SDN technology $5k – $20k