Future Looks Bleak for Traditional Switch and Router Market

Pundits have predicted for years that the traditional router and switch markets were on the demise, predictions that were founded somewhat in fact, but mostly on assumptions. However, thanks to the rise of software-defined technologies, those pundits may have actually been on to something. At least that is what the folks over at Corsa Technology are predicting.
GigaOM recently had the chance to discuss the future of the switching and routing technology with Corsa’s CTO, Yatish Kumar. Kumar explained that SDN (software defined networking) is at a place where it can readily replace traditional routing and switching devices. A statement backed by Corsa’s VP of Product Management, Carolyn Raab.
Raab said, “traditional switching and routing is fading, finally fulfilling the past predictions of industry pundits.” Raab added, “however, the functionality of both will not fade away, but evolve instead, thanks to the adoption of better-virtualized solutions and software defined methods, which will improve deployments and access.”
Raab said, “However, to support the evolution of switching and routing technologies, service providers must embrace true network hardware virtualization, which is a must have to create virtual forwarding context (VFCs) at WAN scale.” Raab is predicting that more and more service providers will leverage networking equipment that delivers WAN-scale open, programmable SDN capabilities. A prediction that makes a lot of sense, since service providers are looking to deliver innovative services, while giving their clients improved service level assurances.
Capabilities enabled by the fact that SDN solutions are programmable and allow networking operators and their customers to spin up new services quickly and easily.
Raab also noted that SDN virtualization will be used to accelerate on demand service. An observation backed by the deployment of SDN in service providers, internet exchanges, ISPs, and data centers. Raab said, “What’s consistent across all of them is they avoided delays caused by the often difficult integration of SDN orchestration, control and data plane elements. By moving past this integration roadblock, service providers have accelerated the ability to ramp up on-demand services that provide greater control and orchestration.”
However, Raab warned, “It is important to be aware of the security risks inherent in open programmable networks, such as those the in the world of SDN.” Raab said, “But with the right approach and tools SDN done right can translate into two important developments:  value-added security-by-design in the SDN implementation itself and by offering added policy-based secure traffic passage.”
Raab predicted that more companies will look to SDN and NFV solutions that provide automated, policy-aware security in the control/data plane and alleviate the perceived security holes due to open virtualized networks.
Much of the new security capabilities and accelerated adoption of SDN and NFV solutions can be attributed to the preponderance of Open Source, which proves to be the right approach to SDN. Raab said “as service providers and ISPs increasingly look for greater efficiency in delivering new services to customers, they will turn to the solutions that provide closer to 80 percent of the capabilities needed to control the data plane via open source or vendor supplied code, thereby avoiding hiring a large team of programmers to build a learning bridge or router from scratch. Operators will only have to do 20 percent of the work to customize their networking solution with value-add features that make it their own.”
Raab further predicts that service providers and ISPs will opt for SDN solutions that are more turn-key in providing control across the network and leave 20 percent for the provider’s creative input.”