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What role will SDN play in public cloud infrastructure?

The transition from hardware- to software-defined networks will affect the design of public clouds as firms extend their physical data centers.

What role will software-defined networking (SDN) play in networking across clouds?

What's interesting to me about SDN's role in public cloud infrastructure is that it's a new way to look at virtualization in an approach that enables companies to do a much more efficient job of managing their infrastructure.

The nice thing about SDN is that it fits into that stack of "how do I define my data center" questions. If you take a step back and look at the data center as a whole, networking is typically the baseline. You start with the network first before adding hardware, appliances or other things, and so we see that it's critical for folks to actually be able to define a data center in the cloud that matches their needs. The challenge right now is that the market is served by hardware vendors, so we have to get folks who are interested in bridging the gap between hardware- and software-oriented architectures. As we see more enterprise workloads going to the public cloud, a number of hardware vendors are starting to show us product strategies that ask "How do we still be relevant in this new world, where people aren't going to buy a Cisco router or a Cisco switch anymore? How do we make sure we're relevant in that conversation?"

That shift in the marketplace is going to force those hardware vendors to think about their offerings in a public cloud infrastructure.

Kris Bliesner is CEO and co-founder of Seattle-based cloud-computing provider 2nd Watch Inc.

This was last published in October 2013

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