One Year Into New SDN Rollout, Cloud Provider Talks Lessons Learned

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By: James O'Brien|

It took four weeks to get it working just right, but now that Venzo Hosting A/S has spent a year running its network via Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), the company’s IT executives are pointing to key software-defined network (SDN) lessons learned for the next generation of users.

Key among those lessons is to measure the pace of the rollout, Thomas Raabo, principal infrastructure engineer at Venzo Hosting, told Network World. “We needed to do something different through APIs,” he said. “But we didn’t need to enable all of the features day one.”

Venzo’s business is providing infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service to clients. Its portals are Microsoft-based, and its move to Cisco’s ACI was prompted last year by an increasing number of subscribers and the need to automate network configuration. ACI now handles at least 1,000 virtual machines for Venzo, according to Network World, and 400 users across the company’s client base.

The shift comes as other major players in the marketplace have moved to implement software-defined networking. For example, The Wall Street Journal noted that The Gap Inc. is on its way to supporting some 1,200 stores across its corporate network with SDN.

As Venzo implemented its new system, it was careful to greenlight features that drove to the heart of its main goals; for the time being, it’s skipping over ACI’s capabilities regarding firewalls and load balancers. The company also elected to take a wait-and-see approach to several of ACI’s virtual switch features.

It was a move that almost certainly limited the number of variables in play. Initially, Raabo told Network World, some ACI switches failed to identify intended controllers and instead rebooted themselves, returning to master configuration. Once IT leadership at Venzo massaged those tangles, however, they were able to bring the SDN into live-traffic mode within the first month.

Last fall, Cisco reported the SDN has found significant traction in the data center space, where more than 45 partners are helping to define solutions around L4-L7 network and security service use cases across more than 1,000 customers. Early adopters include the Denmark-based Zitcom and European service provider Qbranch.

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About The Author

James O'Brien

Freelance Writer

As a journalist and writer in the branded content space, James O'Brien covers business, technology, social media, marketing, film, food, wine, writing and news. The Nieman Journalism Lab has called his work in the custom content space "sponsored content done right." He has written for major regional newspapers, and he has managed and edited established, startup and turnaround newsrooms in varied markets, from community papers to major-city dailies. He consults for firms and businesses — startups to seasoned — on the creation of effective content strategies and the establishment of practical editorial calendars for enacting them. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University, where he researched and edited Bob Dylan's other-than-song writings. He is engaged in a bibliography for Oxford University Press, covering writings about filmmaker John Cassavetes. He is the author of "The Indie Writer's Survival Guide." His short stories and poetry are published in numerous journals and magazines.

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