The lack of standard protocol development faces difficulties | Open source attempts to solve the SD-WAN

Posted May 26, 20203 min read

Introduce:SD-WAN can't realize the dream, how can open source accomplish this challenge?

Article translator:"Open Source Village OSV" WeChat public account

The dream of SD-WAN is very simple:make the network faster, better, cheaper and safer. Sorell Slaymaker, chief consulting analyst at TechVision Research, said the problem is that proprietary technology simply cannot be expanded to meet these needs.

In a recent webinar, Slaymaker and flexiWAN founder and CEO Amir Zmora discussed the state of the SD-WAN market and how to use open source methods to solve the most pressing challenges of the technology. The latter company was the first to develop and release an open source SD-WAN platform.

According to Slaymaker, many of the problems facing the SD-WAN market are due to the lack of any type of Internet Engineering Task Force(IETF) style industry standard. He said of SD-WAN:"This is a hard reality. This is the first time I have been working on the network for many years. There is no IETF protocol standard."

Although industry forces like MEF are trying to change this standard, there is a lack of such a standard. Slaymaker said that if the open source platform can become the de facto standard, then it may be equally useful. In fact, Slaymaker said, in fact, "behind the scenes", many SD-WAN software stacks are already open source, with some proprietary code to bundle them together.

"One reason for having more than 60 SD-WAN vendors is that each of these SD-WAN vendors will not quit and write code from scratch. All they are doing is going out and taking all these open source components, Bundle them together, add other stuff, and sell it as a proprietary solution, "he added, with the opportunity to break the cycle and develop a completely open SD-WAN framework.

However, although most SD-WAN stacks already exist in the open source world, Zmora said:"You still need to do a lot of work yourself, mainly in terms of management to achieve it. This is actually what we are trying to do. "FlexiWAN became the first open source SD-WAN platform and entered the market in January 2020."

Zmora said at the time:"This version is an important milestone for flexiWAN and our community because it is the world's first SD-WAN solution that can be immediately put into production and driven by the community." "Our innovation and The opening is not limited to the technical level. However, even before the full listing has been achieved, the company has won the support of Telefónica. At the end of last year, the company announced a partnership with flexiWAN to develop a purpose-built white-box consumer residence Proof-of-concept SD-WAN service running on the equipment(CPE).

Interoperability issues

Despite these challenges, both Zmora and Slaymaker believe that a completely open source platform can solve one of the most obvious flaws of SD-WAN:the lack of interoperability. Slaymaker explained that the corporate network is not homogeneous. Campuses, branch offices or home offices, remote workers and cloud resources are all connected in different ways, and "the network we end up with is actually many different networks in the enterprise."

Zmora compares the current state of the SD-WAN market to past feature phones. These features may be able to communicate through devices such as WhatsApp, but can only communicate with other phones of the same brand. If you want to use other messaging services, you must Buy other phones.

Slaymaker said that this lack of interoperability also means that most SD-WAN platforms are indeed point solutions. "I can use them to connect my retail store to my data center, but because partners use different solutions, I can't really use them in cost-effective places." The open source SD-WAN platform will not appear This problem is because the way to communicate from any given point is a known variable.

Break away from supplier lock-in

Zmora explained that the second problem that the open source SD-WAN platform can solve is vendor lock-in. He said the supplier wants to bring customers into the fence. "The way to do this is to actually bundle as much functionality as possible into a large software stack." Although this practice undoubtedly causes inconvenience to the enterprise, it is a huge challenge for service providers.

Zmora said:"For service providers, differentiation is the key to survival and selling products." "When we talk to them, it is difficult for them to use many SD-WAN solutions because they cannot really provide more top-level. Features."

The open source SD-WAN platform will provide a blank foundation for service providers to build their hosting services on it. Moreover, if such a platform is popular, it will not lead to the demise of SD-WAN vendors. Zmora believes that making SD-WAN open source will enhance market competitiveness by forcing suppliers to compete with each other.

"Vendors there can continue to add other features to differentiate their solutions," Slaymaker explained. "However, if we do not have the same foundation, then we will return to the traditional IP network and SD-WAN is just a simple solution."