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Big Switch Networks CTO Rob Sherwood on SDN in 2015: The time is now

Art Fewell | March 10, 2015
I recently had the chance to sit down with Rob Sherwood, CTO of Big Switch Networks to get his insight on whats hot with SDN for 2015.

[Art] I am a fan of NVO technology, don't get me wrong, I don't have too much an opinion on it one way or another. Sometimes I think like, would the world really be that much of a different place if Betamax had won instead of VHS at the end of the day? I'm not saying they're the same quality of technology. I was thinking it's probably possible to make either one work if that's what the industry chooses to put its weight behind it. I think what I'm waiting to see is one going to take over from the other. To my point, one thing that seems apparent with OpenFlow in the physical hardware is, yeah, today it hasn't been to full maturity yet and I can't just go out as an average enterprise and go buy a plug and play solution [for all use cases]. That hasn't happened yet but that doesn't mean that OpenFlow technology won't ultimately create that. Once I have OpenFlow technology in my physical hardware, is it that stuff starts to become overhead that you don't need anymore?

[Rob] Let me push back a little of what you said. We've been shipping OpenFlow based solutions that really are plug and play for the better part of two years now, particularly our Big Tap product. That really is a drop it in and it goes on the side of your network very safely. It's a very safe and easy thing to do. We're getting a lot of traction with that. If that builds on OpenFlow, we've been deploying that for a couple years now. We've been deploying our big cloud fabric product since September of last year. We're getting a lot of traction with that. Actually our new release, if I can put in a plug for that, is coming out this month and it's going to actually support hardware from Dell so we're really looking forward to that. For 2015 it's going to be very interesting to see now that we've got some real initial customer traction and we've got some real products that will start to just connect all the dots and show the hockey stick curve. It'll be very interesting to see what happens this year.

[Art] The next thing that I wanted to ask is really about Docker. That's one of the big new fairly uncharted territories. Linux containers have been around for a while, the networking capabilities within Docker aren't particularly robust yet [This call was recorded prior to the Socketplane acquisition by Docker]. There's a lot of startups trying to tackle that and I'm certain it's on your guys' radar and you're working on stuff around that. I'm curious, what do you see, how is Docker networking going to hit the market and what evolution needs to happen there?


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