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SDN & OpenFlow World Congress: 3 Key Themes

Last week, the fourth annual SDN & OpenFlow World Congress was held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Organized by the Open Networking Foundation and Layer123 and hosted by Deutsche Telecom, the event bills itself as "the best opportunity to meet all of the global market-making organizations behind SDN, NFV, OpenFlow and the development of the new networking industry."

The conference opened with a keynote from the ONF's Dan Pitt, and included speakers and content from carriers, vendors, and other industry organizations including OpenDaylight, Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the Broadband Forum, the MEF, the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), and the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance.

Attending the Congress alongside some of the best brightest minds in the SDN industry, we can say that the show has again succeeded in bringing an emerging industry together to discuss the latest in SDN and NFV technologies. And although the program began for service providers, there is a growing focus on the enterprise. 

People were talking the most about the following trends:

1. Many operators are exploring the use of OpenStack to address NFV (network functions virtualization) requirements.

OpenStack gives customers the ability to build across any or all platforms without having to completely rework or replace their existing cloud infrastructure. It is gaining regular momentum and is set to become the new gold standard for the industry. 

2. Microservices are determining how virtualized network functions (VNFs) will be packaged moving forward.

Microservices are a big conversation point at the moment, especially when it comes to whether virtual machines (VMs) or containers are the best way to deploy the VNFs. Several presentations and conversations discussed what constitutes a microservice.

The expectation in service provider environments is that microservices will be able to scale to hundreds of thousands of instances, and that analytics and optimization are going to be key attributes in these environments. Regardless, it is clear that micro-services are becoming a catalyst in the evolution toward distributed asynchronous services. 

3. Service function chaining (SFC) in the data center is on the rise.

Service function chaining in the data center is becoming more commonplace than ever before. There were sessions delivered by several large companies, as well as the SFC working group, that provided a really clear outline of how this will play out and its progress thus far.

It is safe to say that clear skies are ahead. Companies will increasingly be required to understand network services headers though, which is the primary identifier for components in the chain. To help, OPNFV will create example deployment solutions with real vendor components in support of SFC.