Andrew Coward

SDN in the Real World

SDN in the Real World

Over the last five years we’ve seen a lot of SDN technologies emerge – from the original Openflow switches, to the myriad of overlay technologies such as SD WAN, Contrail, Nuage, and more, not to mention a number of open source projects.

One thing we can say about all of the them though, is that they have been divergent network strategies.  That is to say, that implementing any one of these technologies requires that you deploy a new network, either physical or virtual.  They all require that this new domain is managed, separate and distinct from the existing network and they all require a new data plane to work.

In parallel with the SDN movement, has been the move to “digitize” the network – that is to say, to bring the same level of automation to networking that we’ve seen in the compute space, and preferably without having to rebuild the entire network.

SDN can and should play a key role in the move to automation, and yet most of these technologies complicate, not simplify the network.  Alongside the effort to automate is lost while yet another proprietary system is deployed. For example, debugging a network connectivity problem now involves solving for both overlay and underlay issues – the new virtual network and the underlying network.

Convergent Software Defined NetworkWhen we started Lumina Networks, we had a different vision for SDN – as a convergent, not divergent technology.  By selecting OpenDaylight as our open source controller, we made a conscious choice to enable the SDN control of every domain across the network, and worked with the community on building the necessary protocols and interfaces to allow control of almost anything in the network, even if the product was never designed with SDN in mind.

This focus on inclusion, and with it, multi-domain SDN control, is vital for anyone intent on automating their network and abstracting the business logic from the network control logic.  This is why OpenDaylight is controlling more devices than any other open source networking project and why it is a key part of transformational projects such as ONAP.

As an industry, we need to get over the distraction of divergent SDN solutions and stick to the task at hand, which is to radically reduce the time and cost associated with deploying, provisioning and running networks, through the converged automation of end-to-end services. Our customers know this well, which is why they choose Lumina to open their networks to SDN.

Welcome to Lumina Networks

Today Lumina Networks is launching through our acquisition of Brocade’s SDN Controller product family and the joining of its talented development and services engineers. We are truly thrilled for this new chapter and opportunity to work with you.

Lumina is dedicated to the advancement of open software networks that give providers control over how they implement their ideas and priorities for change. We believe our job is to be the catalyst to bring open software networking out of the lab and into live networks, and we have the products and expertise to help our customers do just that.

As Lumina Networks, we will continue to provide the industry-leading Lumina SDN Controller, powered by OpenDaylightTM (ODL) along with our optional controller-based applications. As you may know, this solution offers a common, open platform for developers, giving providers direct control over their SDN development and implementation, thus eliminating vendor lock-in. What you may not realize is how widely deployed the ODL Controller is today, now supporting over 1 billion users worldwide.

In addition, we will also offer Lumina NetDev Services for organizations that wish to accelerate the implementation of their open software network and want to expand the skill set of their network engineering and operations team through hands-on experience. Our NetDev Services team of experts works with customers to jointly develop production systems using Agile methods to prototype and speed through proof-of-concept and pilot phases. The team’s expertise and willingness to work spans open source, Lumina products and any third-party products needed to achieve multi-vendor interworking.

This is a particularly gratifying day for me, having spent my last three years at Brocade, working alongside this outstanding team and developing what we believe to be a unique set of products and services. Learn more about why providers around the world are working with Lumina now and the principles we are committed to following to bring open software out of the lab and into the live network.

If this resonates with you, and you have a software networking project in the lab that you are ready to move to the live network, please reach out. Join our movement and get out of the lab today!


Why Lumina Networks? Why Now?

The elusive promise of open software networking

Software promised to eat the world, but networking has proved a little harder to digest. While applications and data centers have experienced dramatic and visible change, the network itself has remained remarkably stubborn to virtualization and automation.

Network vendors sold magic pills to grow superpowers, matching hyperscale providers in skills, technology and speed. Placebos of course, take time to be discovered and the promised agility remained elusive.

Meanwhile, a quiet revolution brewed at providers. In backrooms and labs, on weekends and in free moments, passionate, committed renegades have been working on the technology to bring transformational change to their networks. These teams realize that change has to come from within and cannot be outsourced. No magic pill can replace the hard work that all lasting change requires. Their call-to-arms is open source, virtualization, and automation. They take inspiration from the methods of hyperscale providers but must apply technology pragmatically to both their new and old infrastructure.

Escape velocity

In these labs, all of the right ingredients—open source software, agile technologies, white boxes, abstraction models and programming skills—are now proving themselves in performance and in features.  So what is stopping these solutions from escaping the lab and being deployed in production networks? I believe the missing ingredient is a catalyst.

By definition, a catalyst causes ingredients to react, to bond, and to change the form of elements around them. Such a catalyst is needed to bring the new into the existing network, to integrate with what is there, and to bond the benefits from the greenfield to the brownfield. And perhaps most importantly, to furnish expertise, support and enablement to the internal teams charged with making it all happen.

This change from within has reached a critical moment. Providers must now choose technology differentiation from within, or wait for the market to deliver turn-key solutions. If differentiating now carries risk, waiting to be usurped by others surely carries more. Those who think competitively realize that turn-key is a zero-sum game. Everyone gets essentially the same solution at the same time, in a world where time is now the greatest competitive force setting apart the winners from the losers. Those who build their own solutions—using off-the-shelf components married to unique in-house developed functionality—build-in the agility and options for difference that are necessary to stay ahead. Few would argue that differentiation in the digital world demands control of your own destiny in how you develop and deploy technology.

Changing together with each other

At the center of every transformational change are heroes. These heroes form one part of the change, their network and their organization the other. Yet, these heroes often have to work in conflict with their organizations that have ingrained ways of working.

It’s not as if these heroes have not been offered ‘help’ along the way. Traditional networking vendors and integrators have fallen over themselves to sign providers up for transformational change. But the results have been lackluster, at best.

When you put the fox in charge of the hen house, it eats time and money, then leaves a trail of legacy software and hardware behind. No, the challenge is that the change must come from within—meaning that providers must be responsible for their own journey and cannot simply outsource the work to the cheapest or most shiny bid that comes in from the outside. Maybe I’m being too hard on the fox. The reality in many cases is that the fox does want to change, does want to adapt but isn’t really in a position to affect change because, well, they still love to eat chickens.

As an alternative, many in the networking community have spent the last three years working out how to build software networks out of open components. The thinking is that if you can build your software network with open source, where the possibility to change vendors is always available, these vendors will continue to work extremely hard on your behalf, to stay at the top of their game, and to do what is best with you.

And so, I’ve come to believe that what heroes need is a catalyst that will work with them and their organization. Deliver projects with them is the big idea—not to them, or for them. Working together, from within, change is genuine and sustaining. It is shaped to specifics of the organization. I believe that with a catalyst, teams can achieve self-sufficiency and resolve the indigestion now afflicting their networks.

Being a part of the change

I am most fortunate to have formed, with a mighty team of similarly-minded challengers, our own company that we called Lumina Networks. As Lumina Networks, we are embracing the ethos of catalyst, a catalyst that works with our customers, our partners and our developer communities. We are focused on aiding transformational change in providers—without reservation or conflict from other considerations (e.g. hardware)—working with our customers to make change possible, one small advance in capability, one shift in mindset, one step at a time.

For the past three years, and as part of Brocade we’ve been able to learn much about execution in this new way of business. Our development engineers and NetDev Services team have been working closely with the world’s largest providers in building open technologies and integrating them into large, complex production networks. We’ve been there, in the room, working through the gnarly challenges of what it really takes to change networks. We’ve been there as customers consider what it means not only for their architectures and technology, but also for those who must operate the networks reliably, securely, at carrier scale, and for those who must figure out how all of this now works with the back office delivery systems.

We see the industry evolving quickly in how it collaborates through the vehicle of open source community to build the best of what’s possible. Providers know there’s much they must do together in developing technology, while using how they define and deliver services to stand out in the experiences they create.

Lumina Networks Principles

As we set out, we wanted a set of principles for Lumina Networks that guide us, and represent our “true north”. These principles are simple, yet they govern difficult decisions, balance tradeoffs and help us to avoid pitfalls.

  1. Open source first. Work with engineering communities to develop platforms that solve industry-wide problems.
  2. Pure open source network products. No forking from community code or proprietary extensions that create lock-in, packaged for specific use cases and ease-of-use, and commercially supported for reliability. To ensure 100% compatibility, we upstream our enhancements and fixes.
  3. Network products as swappable components. Open interfaces and software elements focused on a small, well-defined set of clear functions to provide ease-of-integration, based on standard models.
  4. Integration with third parties. Products readily combined with those from other companies, including the lengthy list of legacy technologies and interfaces now embedded deeply into provider networks. Meet the needs of today and tomorrow without needing to rip out of everything that providers have today.
  5. Platform approach. Components combined to create extensible solutions for infrastructure and customer services. Not only does a platform approach ease change in the future, it enables an incremental approach today to deliver immediate, achievable improvement.
  6. Designed for serviceability. Embracing the DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering movements, operations and support teams and their requirements are brought to the front of the design and development process. Networks shake off their past and deliver the holy grail of increased reliably in conjunction with increased agility.
  7. NetDev Services. Engineers leading the Agile development and deployment of new software technologies, both networking and operations software, must be willing and able to work in joint teams to pass on knowledge and skills, tools and practices that lead providers to self-sufficiency.
  8. Open business relationships. Licenses and contracts that define how vendors and providers work together must change so that developers have full ownership of their innovation, customers have full control over their priorities for change, and well-defined outcomes leave the flexibility to adjust in details with new learning of teams.

We see our job to be the catalyst in bringing open software out of the lab and into the live network. These are the principles that guide us in working with providers and in building the open software networks of the future.

If these principles resonate with you, and if you have a software networking project in the lab that you are ready to move to the live network, reach out. Join our movement and get out of the lab today!

Press Release: Lumina Networks Enters SDN Market


For Release: Aug. 7, 2017, 8 a.m. EDTFor Release: Aug. 7, 2017, 8 a.m. EDT

Lumina Networks Enters SDN Market
Company Created to be the Catalyst for Open Software Networks to Eliminate Vendor Lock-in

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Aug. 7, 2017—Lumina Networks, Inc. launched today in the software-defined networking (SDN) market, through its acquisition of assets associated with the SDN Controller product family from Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.  Along with a leading SDN Controller solution, powered by OpenDaylight™, Lumina brings a talented team of network software engineers and existing customer engagements with some of the world’s largest service providers. Offering the Lumina SDN Controller, applications and Network Development (NetDev) Services, Lumina is the catalyst that brings open software networking out of the lab and into production networks.

Transitioning to software-based networks can dramatically lower capital and operational costs while transforming network functionality and customer experience. Yet, the complexity of the transition from hardware to software, along with the crucial requirement of independence from vendors, has made it difficult for service providers to move beyond lab trials and into production environments. This is where open source-based networking technology can help.

Using OpenDaylight as its preferred open source controller, Lumina enables service providers to directly control their SDN implementations while providing the flexibility to develop their own solutions through their choice of vendors thus eliminating lock-in. To ensure 100 percent compatibility with OpenDaylight’s code base, Lumina contributes enhancements made to its SDN Controller back to the open source community.

Lumina also offers NetDev Services to help organizations transform their network engineering and operations team. The NetDev Services team at Lumina works with customers to jointly develop production systems using agile methods to prototype and speed through proof-of-concept and pilot phases. Lumina NetDev Services builds solutions using Lumina, open source tools or competitive products.  The company’s methodologies enable customer teams to become self-sufficient in developing and managing their new open source platforms.

“Our job is to be the catalyst to help service providers bring open software networking out of the lab and into their live network,” said Andrew Coward, chief executive officer, Lumina Networks. “We started Lumina Networks to ensure providers can use open source in critical use cases. But just delivering technology is not enough. Our customers are doing the implementation with us, so they can learn and acquire the skills, tools and practices needed to develop and manage the platforms we jointly deploy.”

Lumina’s product portfolio includes:

  • Lumina SDN Controller: A fully tested, documented and quality-assured edition of OpenDaylight, that provides a common open platform to control the network and manage its nodes.
  • Lumina Flow Manager: A controller-based application that enables more simplified and sophisticated traffic engineering of the network with advanced algorithms such as path-computation for efficient traffic flows.
  • Lumina Zero Touch Installer: A controller-based application that provides initialization of devices, such as virtual CPE, with the correct software image and configuration automatically.

“By embracing openness and layering innovation, Lumina can claim a distinct differentiation in the SDN market,” said Ray Mota, chief executive officer and principal analyst, ACG Research.  “With a leading SDN Controller, an experienced team of software engineers and a roster of large service providers as customers, Lumina will help network operators expand their use of SDN so they can save time and money.”

About Lumina Networks
Lumina Networks believes the future is open software networks where service providers are in control of their development. Lumina is the catalyst that brings open software networking out of the lab and into the live network. We develop open source platforms and provide NetDev Services to jointly deliver production systems and to transfer know-how in Agile Software Development methods.

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© 2017 Lumina Networks. All Rights Reserved.
Lumina Networks and the Lumina networks logo and symbol are trademarks or registered trademarks of Lumina Networks, Inc. in the United States and in other countries. Other marks may belong to third parties.

Lumina Contact
Kevin Woods
(408) 906-8514

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