Ask the Experts: Go on a Road Trip with SDN and NFV

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle breaks down MPLS, SDN and NFV technologies with Masergy’s Vice President of Global Technology Ray Watson. Find out more about next generation networks from Ray and the Masergy team here:

Andrew: All right. Time again for another Ask the Experts session. Sitting here with Ray Watson, who’s the Vice President of Global Technology for Masergy. One of the members of our esteemed faculty. Ray, welcome back to the studio, man.
Ray: It’s good to be here.
Andrew: All right. Very cool. Hey, we’re in the middle of this Advanced Data Networking certification track. When we start talking about the next generation of networks, we have to talk about a couple of technologies: SDN and NFV. I know you’re a very technical guy, so I want to challenge you to do something here. Give us the layman’s definition of SDN and NFV. Go.
Ray: I’d be glad to, Andrew. Of course, by now everybody probably knows that it really comes down to the segmentation of control plan and data plan. The way I would explain it to my grandmother, for example–which I think the layman’s terms, although my grandmother is actually pretty technical, I guess–the way I would explain it to her is, if you think in terms of something that we can all relate to.
 Imagine if you’re driving your vehicle on a long road trip, right. If the only way that you could ever know which way to turn at highway junctions and road signs, and even exits and entrances, was to look at the road signs right in front of you that had arrows pointing–that is sort of like traditional IP routing. Traditional IP routing is per hop. It’s always about your auto discovery of your neighbors and it makes decisions every single time it goes to a junction. If we were going to try to make that kind of road trip, Andrew, we wouldn’t do it for very long before we figured out that we need to stop at a truck stop and get a map, right.
That’s really what Multiprotocol Label Switching is. It’s about having pre-defined label switch paths for the different types of traffic. Making decisions based on things like disaster recovery and latency and things like that. Every packet basically has a pre-determined path across the board. By the way, you also get to keep your per hop, that routing, from the traditional IP as well. What SDN and NFV does–and the reason it’s so exciting for both enterprises and carriers as well–is you get to keep the per hop routing, you also get to keep the map you got at the truck stop, but now you get to have an iPhone that has real time GPS. Real time weather control. Even is aware of where there is police officers or accidents, etc. It can make real-time decisions intelligently from a central authority.
The way I would actually explain it to my grandmother, for example, is it’s really the difference between a whole bunch of cars in a traffic jam versus an air traffic control tower essentially telling everyone where to be and how to get there.
Andrew: Interesting. Very cool. SDN, Software Defined Networking. NFV, Networking Virtualization . . .
Ray: Network Function Virtualization.
Andrew: NFV, Network Function Virtualization. Thank you. Those basically give you the visibility way beyond what you can normally see out in front of the headlights of your car. You can anticipate way ahead of time where the network needs to go.
Ray: One hundred percent. The big part about SDN and NFV isn’t just about that centralized intelligence–although that is a huge part of it. It’s also about equipment interoperability. The idea that you can intermingle Cisco and Juniper with Check Point, and even your own equipment. You can actually go get a Linux server and drop it into your data center and have it function as a virtual switch or a virtual router. All of that is a big part of that promise. The most and the biggest change that’s really going to happen is how quickly networks and people can adapt in either the data center or in the wide area network. That adaptability is the really strong part of every use case of NFV and SDN.
Andrew: Got it. Very cool. Hey, great stuff. We got a lot more to dig into around these technologies to understand them more. That gives us a really cool analogy. Thank you. We all like road trips. There you go. Most of us do.
Ray: Make sure you bring gas money, okay.
Andrew: Yeah. There you go. There you go. Guys, that’s Ray Watson. Ray is the Vice President of Global Technology for Masergy and one of the members of the faculty here at the University. Do spend some time in the Masergy learning center. There’s great, great stuff there that can help you get smarter about how to close these big next generation deals. Guys, good selling.