The on going network evolution

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about NFV and SDN and it seems that all of the players are either in denial, trying to stall competitors or announcing products that are not quite ready for prime time. While all of this is going on, the academics have decided that their first pass at SDN/NFV needed to be refined. Industry seems to be ignoring academia for the time being and pushing on with the first definition.

The academics have put forward solid arguments for their changes and have identified a new layer to break up the network control plain. I don’t see how industry hopes to deliver on the promises of network orchestration without addressing the academic’s concerns.

This leads me to make a few observations and pose a few questions:

Observations (What Orchestration needs to deliver):

  •  The ability to define an end-to-end service independent of topology.
  • A way to view how a service was implemented (All VNF’s or legacy nodes involved)
    Note that this view may change as the topology changes dynamically.
  • A way to monitor the performance of a service.
  • A way to test the performance of a service.
  • A way to know why deploying a service failed (What extra resources I need to make it succeed).


  • How does an orchestrator know when to spin up a new VNF and adjust the network topology?
  • Will vendors provide rules/guidelines for the performance of their VNF’s?
  • How does an orchestrator detect network topology changes that it didn’t make?
  • How will orchestrators deal with adjusting the topology for latency, costs, etc. Will users be able to provide guidelines for their network orchestration or will that be a service parameter?
  • How will orchestrators deal with parts of the network that contain legacy devices?
  • What will orchestrators do when they can’t deliver on all the SLA’s?

I have many more questions than answers and vendors that are making orchestration announcements are not providing any detail. Announcements are mostly in the form “It will work, trust me”. I’m sure things will eventually converge and there will be a brave new world, I just can’t see over the hill of innovation.

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