By virtualizing network-attached flash resources to isolated networks -- be they OpenFlow-defined, NSX-based end-system tunnels, or even (gulp) VLANs -- we benefit from the ability to take expensive and high-performance storage resources and map them directly to the systems that consume them. In storage, sharing resources this way has always required some form of central mediator, with the side effect of always inherently having a bottleneck in performance.
As an example, binding virtualized networks to virtualized flash means that alongside a reliable and scalable NFS instance, an alternate tenant can have direct access to virtual flash resources and integrate directly into their application stack. Isolation in this manner lets us deploy a storage system that both supports legacy protocols and allows new, more efficient presentations of data to be developed along side, all on the same hardware.
How will SDN and applications evolve?
I think we all expect SDN to result in significant change from an application perspective in data center networks. However, there seems to be an idea floating around that this will surface as some sort of SDN "app store," where you download and install exciting new types of functionality for your network. As we start to see customer networks adopt and deploy SDN, our products will be able to more broadly integrate and achieve higher degrees of data-center-wide performance management.
Through the coming years, I really hope the SDN community will continue to evolve standards quickly, and systems will stay implementation-focused around rough consensus and running code. Most of all, I hope that everyone -- from the people implementing OpenFlow controllers and clients to chip-set vendors that are building spectacularly cool data path functionalities -- continue to think about applications. There is an unfortunate tendency in building standards to avoid exposing features that you may regret and have to support later.
My sense is that applications will make SDN succeed. The more functionality you can give application developers, the more they will make SDN work for everyone.
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