The Openflow Workshop went ahead as scheduled on Tuesday 28 February 2012. It was a packed house, with representatives from a wide variety of organisations and sectors in attendance.
As expected, there was a strong showing from the Universities and research organisations, but there was also considerable interest from the commercial sector in the form of Citilink and Hewlett Packard, and government made an appearance as well.
Additionally, several members of the REANNZ team attended, including Chief Executive Steve Cotter who was one of the workshop presenters, Sam Russell (Network Support), Richard Stephen (Deputy Operations Manager), and Desi Ramoo (Member Engagement Specialist), who was instrumental in putting the workshop together.
“It was very pleasing to see such interest in the workshop,” Desi said. “As well as those who attended in person, there was significant activity online, with people tuning in and out as their schedules (or specific interest) dictated.” Although the absolute numbers of individual online viewers wasn’t tracked, Desi estimates that there were “upwards of twenty” people who tuned in during the day.
Because of the level of interest, Desi is looking into setting up a follow-up event, tentatively called the Bootcamp. We’ll be publishing more on this soon.
In part because of the workshop, Sam has become something of an Openflow evangelist. He would like New Zealand to be at the forefront of Openflow, and is more than willing to do what he can to help promote Science DMZ.
Why? Because, in his words, “The workshop has persuaded me that this is where the future of networking is. Openflow gives rise to a much more ideal networking situation. It’s hardware independent, which means that networkers are no longer effectively locked into using one type of switch.
“It also lets you have a centralised config, which means you can avoid the complexities of distributed decision making at the same time as enabling better testing; you can do a software proof that your network changes will work, without resorting to ‘try it and see’.
“All in all, network development ought to be able to progress much faster.”
Richard agrees with Sam’s perspective, but also highlights the reality that there will be challenges ahead.
“The real effort will be in understanding the full ecosystem and management of interconnected Openflow enabled networks,” he says. “Having a centralised management system is likely to have a significant impact on organisations’ resourcing needs—and on the cost of making any changes. It will be interesting to observe how the established players in the industry adjust their value proposition.”
When asked if this could stifle the development of Openflow and similar technologies, Richard says, “It can’t be stopped. Pandora’s box is open.” But he also adds, “It’s early days yet, and more work needs to be done. Watch this space.”
A final word
Overall, the consensus was that the workshop was a great opportunity not only to learn more about Openflow, but also as an engagement activity. It was a chance for REANNZ to support Josh Bailey (Google) and Victoria University, to show our members that we want to work with them, and to get feedback from them as to what they want.
We look forward to similar opportunities in the future.