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What does OpenFlow and OpenStack mean to your Cloud?

There are several emerging virtualization and cloud interoperability standards bodies today. Two such organizations are Open Network Foundation (ONF), (website and wikipedia entry), and OpenStack, (website and wikipedia entry). ONF is driving the OpenFlow, (website and wikipedia entry), switching protocol standard and OpenStack is driving the OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Storage standards. In terms of the cloud infrastructure, you could define OpenFlow as defining the network abstraction layer standards, and OpenStack as defining the compute and storage abstraction layer standards. This would mean that cloud developers would be able to write against a standards-based, open API, to develop applications on top of the cloud.

I think these are important initiatives, but I first have to ask, really? This is an awesome thing, but will we really see this in our lifetime? So if cloud providers conform to these standards then it would mean, if I didn't want my database server running on vendor X's cloud service, I could drag and drop it onto vendor Y's cloud service, which should enable the same application/data stack to transparently move from one cloud to another. That would mean it would be that easy to migrate from one cloud infrastructure to another. This would include one's cloud infrastructure of SAN, LAN, servers, storage, and VM/Hypervisor technology. I think this has different implications for the different parts of the cloud, but will all the dominant vendors in the space play fair? It's certainly true, that unless the user community embraces standards, and more specifically asks for compliance with standards from your IT vendors, the likelyhood that there will be an open, standards based API for the cloud, will dim greatly.

It's also important to understand that these initiatives are similar to Brocade's existing business model, which is to work with most of the major IT vendors, to ensure compatibility and interoperability, with our network technology. Even in the absence of standards. Companies such as IBM, HP, EMC, Dell, NetApp, Sun/Oracle, Microsoft and VMWare, have been development partners with Brocade, for many years. Additionally, Brocade has a long history of developing, as well as supporting, network standards. Brocade employees actually have either author, or significant contributor, credit for most of the major FC standards today, along with important contributor roles for some of the new Ethernet standards initiatives, such as the Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links, (TRILL), standard in the Internet Engineering Task Force, (IETF). Brocade was also one of the first vendors to join the OpenFlow Foundation as well as one of the first vendors to endorse the OpenStack initiatives.

There are other implications here as well, but I'm curious to get your take on these initiatives. You may be following these efforts, because you've already decided that they will play an important role in your IT infrastructure plans, or this may be the first time you've heard of them. I'm curious whether you think they will play an important role for you, or not, and why. Also If you think so, I'd like to know how you plan to support the initiatives.


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