How do you see the adoption of SDN in India in the recent times?
I see India as a seller to the rest of the world. It has a very pragmatic approach. In India, we have IIHT as our first customer to implement our solution using the traditional approach around open flow and controller.
I don’t think the Indian market is much different from rest of Asia or even from the US. There are many universities in the US and some web tech companies around the world that are using SDN for sometime through what we call a pragmatic approach. So nowadays networking providers are providing access to the hardware layer through API, thats driven into operating software and with web texts one can actually write scripts or applications to do much more of the software type of analysis and monitoring and management from an SDN level.
The other thing to remember is that there’s not one type of approach to SDN. We are a little different than some of our competitors.
So is there a specific vertical that Dell is focusing on?
We see the adoption primarily in 2 or 3 verticals in the market. The first is education sector specifically universities which were the first to start looking at SDN, mostly technical universities. Second is webtech/cloud companies that are providing services and applications and workloads vis a vis the cloud and the third would be in the high-end finance sector. We have not seen much in healthcare, mid-size traditional banking. I think they are waiting for the technology and to ensure their scalability and support.
So what are the major trends in the SDN market in India?
We don’t see the trends different in India than in the rest of the world. I think the trend is about to open up what we call as open networking. Traditionally, networking has been very proprietary with specific hardware and software. It was very difficult to manage any changes and move to more focused environment in the IT area.
We see that the trend is on the acceleration of SDN to really disaggregated hardware and software. It’s revived not only the customer’s choice in networking software but also other applications that they may use in their environment. Imagine instead of having physical firewalls you can also virtualize and provide as a service software firewalling, optimization, load balancing, application awareness.
From India’s standpoint, we see specific scenarios working for us. Firstly, the demand for SDN from a real workload standpoint is orchestration. There are some specific industry verticals that we are embracing in India. The good and bad thing is that India is slightly a phase late than what is happening in the US. By virtue of that, in India there is always a first tier demand and a second tier demand. So we have a lot of time bandwidth to learn from the experience of what happens in the US market.
If you look at the India market, the growth bed is the SME space. Today they see this technology as a platform for them to emerge into the cloud. Today the cloud adoption is much more widely accepted overall. The fundamental part to moving towards cloud is that if you are living in a static world, for you to move to the cloud means you have to take timely steps. You have to have a converged infrastructure then virtualize it and then have access to private cloud and then move to public cloud. What we are seeing is that the use of SDN in this scenario is ready to massify the business on a cloud stack.
There are various other players in SDN market. How is Dell trying to differentiate itself?
We offer customers a choice or the option to adopt SDN whereas some of our competitors over emphasize on a particular adoption. One will over emphasize the use of open flow in the use of a controller and then boast they have the most number of open flow switches.
Open flow is not necessarily the most scalable SDN design for certain companies. Some companies use a specific switch and a specific software and then look at it from a purely application standpoint. Dell provides programming capability for customers to write their own APIs, their own capabilities through scripts and the benefit there is that the programming allows the management for the network to be done in a consistent track of how we manage and compute. That’s something Dell does very well and we enable them in our switching. We provide open flow in all of our switches as well.
So the differentiation is we don’t lock customers in to one solution. We work with them based on their particular environment and the outcomes that they are trying to solve and we give them three powers of implementation that will basically fully integrate with our partners.
Dell had recently signed an agreement with Big Switch and Cumulus networks. How was it planned and how is the partnership working?
In January we started open networking initiative and the first partner was Cumulus and the second one was Big Switch.
Cumulus for example is based on Linux. The Linux community is large and substantial, building applications and capabilities. It’s very consistent from an orchestration standpoint with compute tools and so forth. So we have positioned Cumulus in more of our programming and virtualization area of implementation.
Big Switch has a light level of network operating software called switch light. So we port switch light into our networking hardware and then it is connected through open flow what we call as big tap controller. So we will continue to work with other partners in this space. We were the first to really support and endorse this open networking or open standards move to a new set of applications from a networking perspective.