I had the privilege of attending Network Field Day as a first-time delegate. There’s a lot to write about, but I wanted to share a quick take on SD-WAN, product quality and organizational culture, and DPDK. I hope to drill down on these and other topics in later posts.
SD-WAN Gold Rush
SD-WAN has pretty much been the provenance of startups such as CloudGenix, Viptela, and Glue Networks. Not any more. Incumbents have smelled a market opportunity and are staking claims to this new territory.
Riverbed and Nuage Networks both announced SD-WAN products at NFD10. Riverbed’s Project Tiger is still a work in progress, but its proposed feature set hits all the SD-WAN highlights (controller-based, hybrid transport with dynamic path selection, centralized policy management, and other elements). The company expects to ship product in 2016.
Nuage Networks, which I primarily associated with data center SDN and service provider NFV, announced an SD-WAN offering, Virtualized Network Services (VNS).
I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Nuage Network’s offering matches up with competing products, but my takeaway from the NFD presentation is that the company aims to streamline deployment and provisioning, and has a slick administrative interface for bringing branches online and applying policy. You can see the NDF demo here. Also, tip of the hat for integrating Lego into the presentation!
Meanwhile, Cisco provided an extensive walkthrough of SD-WAN capabilities that will become available in its IWAN product.
Quality Product: What A Concept!
Ken Duda, CTO and a founder of Arista, gave a stirring talk about the need for quality in product development, and the company’s commitment to not shipping until the product is actually ready.
It’s great to hear this kind of message coming from the executive level, and his efforts to build an organizational culture around quality makes me believe it’s not just happy talk. If the NFD delegates weren’t all introverts, I think they would’ve rushed Mr. Duda after his talk and carried him around on their shoulders.
That said, when he talks about telling his CEO they need more time and they’ll miss a ship date and she says ‘OK,’ I wonder how much harder it must get to have that conversation now that Arista is publicly traded and faces the buzzsaw of quarterly expectations.
DPDK Brain Melt
The Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) is an effort by Intel to improve packet processing performance on chips. I hadn’t heard of it before NFD, but after a brain-melting presentation from principal engineer Edwin Verplanke, it’s something I need to learn more about.
According to Intel, DPDK can increase packet processing performance on a vanilla Linux stack by 25x. The company has made a set of DPDK drivers and libraries open source to help drive adoption, although notes it has optimizations that will improve performance on its own chipsets.