Version 1.4 of OpenFlow is out now, and some analysts call it the first version that's ready for prime time, but would you agree with that statement?
I think 1.3 was ready for prime time. That's why we declared it a stable target for implementers anywhere. Software people are implementing it and deploying it. But 1.4 continues to improve on it and we're working on 1.5 beyond that. Prime time very much depends on your application. We have people that are thrilled with OpenFlow 1.0. I think the diversity of applications and requirements, and the diversity of value for the different kinds of businesses that will benefit from SDN, is so wide it's hard to say "this is the ultimate answer for everybody."
When does 1.5 come out?
We're looking at about one a year. And every time we do a new release we are taking the new features and bundling them as an extension package to OpenFlow 1.3, so people who made use of that as a stable target will find it easy to adopt.
I presumed by this point, three years in, that more of the vendor community would be embracing OpenFlow. Some have thumbed their nose at it, saying they'll add support if and when needed. What do you make of that?
There are two reasons why you might see this response from the vendors. One is the hardware vendors had some legitimate reason to say it's been hard to implement OpenFlow beyond 1.0. But we addressed that with the later versions. And the other is that, when the playing field has been leveled, you have to compete on price, quality and features. It creates a more competitive market, which is great for customers, but it does change the business models for some vendors.
We understand that this is a transition for them. We're trying to keep it going as fast as possible. It's like we're pulling this gang with an rubber band. We don't want it to be a rigid pole because they can't move as fast as we move, and we don't want it to be stretched so far that it breaks and we go on and they don't have any incentive to follow us. So when it's something elastic we can surge ahead and they will catch up. More or less we do move forward together. It's not instantaneously at the same rate.
Good analogy. How about with Cisco? They want to leave some control in the network gear, so they are not really embracing the full decoupling idea.
That's certainly not the philosophy we're advocating. We believe that having this logically centralized control will bring all three of the benefits that operators want, CapEx savings, OpEx savings and increased revenue velocity. But they are making business decisions-- every company is -- and finding their way to get there from here. Cisco has been a member of ONF since the very beginning and they have participated very well. But they have their own business decisions to make and their own path to follow.
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