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ONUG Spring 2017 April 25 & 26 ONUG Fall 2017 October 17 & 18

How the Service Providers Missed The SD-WAN Market

by Nick Lippis

One of the great ONUG success stories is the creation of the SD-WAN market. Its inception took place on an April day in 2013 when the ONUG Board convened for its twice-yearly, face-to-face meeting at UBS headquarters. During this meeting, ONUG Board members shared use cases for which they required solutions that suppliers were not yet providing or addressing.

Each member wrote their use case(s) on a flip chart; about 10 use cases were created in total. Then, to prioritize them, each board member was given three red dots to allocate to the three most pressing, must-be-solved, use cases.

During this meeting, the ONUG Board had invited a handful of guests to provide their input and feedback. One of these guests, Jim Kyriannis, Program Director for Technology Architecture at New York University, was the one to contribute the SD-WAN use case, which ended up receiving the most votes by far, shocking the group.

At the time, Jim didn’t call the use case “SD-WAN,” he called it “Branch Office Has Multiple Paths to Headquarters.” It was at the second ONUG Conference,
hosted by JPMorgan Chase, where it was presented and its title was transformed into SD-WAN. The ONUG Community was asked to vote on some nine use cases at that meeting and it was Jim’s SD-WAN use case that, for a second time garnered an overwhelming majority of the community’s vote.

This launched the ONUG SD-WAN Working Group, chaired by Conrad Menezes of Bank of America. Within the working group, Conrad and other members began to take a deep dive into the use case and detail its requirements. Soon, the group of IT executives published their first ONUG SD-WAN use case white paper and the vendor community was invited to engage. From that point on, there has been strong IT executive and vendor participation. This working group defined verification testing so that vendors’ product features could be tested against the working group requirements. Some 17 vendors participated in the ONUG SD-WAN Working Group feature verification testing program.

The working group then defined proof of concepts that would further demonstrate how SD-WAN solutions could be applied in typical large enterprise environments. Again, 17 vendors participated. It was amazing to see all the SD-WAN proof of concepts taking place in 2014 and still to this day at ONUG.

All along this multi-year cycle, there were presentations at ONUG where IT executives would present SD-WAN successes and challenges. It was this openness of sharing information that allowed the community to fully understand the cost, risks, benefits, and value. In short, the ONUG Community engaged in organizational learning to the benefit of the entire community of IT business and industry leaders to create a new software-defined market for the wide area network.

The SD-WAN market was a product of the IT community; it was defined and created from the start by IT executives.

One would have thought that a new approach to wide area networking would have come from the service provider community, especially considering all the work being done on open source projects focused exclusively for service providers. In addition, there are so many service provider standards organizations and forums that one would have thought the concepts would have come from one of those groups. Yet, the SD-WAN market was a product of the IT community; it was defined and created from the start by IT executives. The ONUG experience proves the old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Enterprise IT executive needs were not being addressed, but as the result of the collective IT user group illustrating those lacking requirements, a solution was provided. The SD-WAN market is the fastest growing software-defined market today thanks to the ONUG Community.

Still, the SD-WAN market is not perfect. There is little to no interoperability between suppliers today. There are no standards or open source approaches that have traction either. As the SD-WAN market grows, new use cases emerge that are demanding some level of interoperability. These use cases include SD-WAN for multi-cloud connectivity, large enterprise mergers and acquisitions, SD-WAN vendors being acquired by larger vendors, vendor lock-in mitigation, etc. These are just a few examples of the use cases now being addressed in the ONUG Open SD-WAN Exchange (OSE) Initiative, co-chaired by Steve Wood of Cisco, Conrad Menezes of Bank of America, and Snehal Patel of Gap Inc. The service providers are now fully engaged and the OSE is starting to liaise with MEF, Broadband Forum, and others so that cross enterprise-service provider SD-WAN interoperability emerges.

An effective community can do great things, sometimes by design, sometimes by chance. The ONUG Community could not be more thankful that Jim Kyriannis attended that board meeting back in early 2013


Author Bio

Nick Lippis pictureNick Lippis


Nick Lippis is an authority on corporate computer networking. He has designed some for the largest computer networks in the world. He has advised many Global 2000 firms on network strategy, architecture, equipment, services and implementation including Hughes Aerospace, Barclays Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Eastman Kodak Company, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Liberty Mutual, Schering-Plough, Sprint, WorldCom, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and a wide range of other equipment suppliers and service providers.

Mr. Lippis is uniquely positioned to comment, analyze and observe computer networking industry trends and developments. At Lippis Enterprises, Inc., Nick works with entrepreneurs evaluating new business opportunities in enterprise networking and serves as an independent investor and advisor.


Machine Learning and Meta-Clouds Next for Cloud Services (Part 2)


by Dr. Cliff Grossner

Part 2 of a 2-part series. Don’t miss Part 1. 

Machine Learning and AI Transform Business

Machine-learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics capabilities integrated with enterprise and mobile applications are set to bring more innovation, changing how enterprises will serve their customers. The following three trends have come together, to make it possible for enterprises of all sizes to apply analytic techniques to business processes, changing how they will serve their customers: (more…)

How to Turn IT from a Business Impediment into an Innovation Driver

by Muralidharan Palanisamy

In the past, people often preferred large, established institutions vs. smaller start-ups because the former offered a wider set of features and options. Let’s take the example of financial institutions. Large banks have the infrastructure and resources to offer their consumers high-quality banking facilities and support in different locations around the world.  (more…)

Machine Learning and Meta-Clouds Next for Cloud Services (Part 1)

Innovation in cloud services ushers in a new era for data center IT, re-defining market landscapes

by Dr. Cliff Grossner

Part 1 of a 2-part series. Don’t miss part 2.

Enterprises are migrating applications to the cloud, to improve agility and reap cost savings. Agility means enterprises can shorten the time needed to introduce new applications and either increase or decrease compute capacity to fit business need. Upfront capital expenditures (capex) can be shifted to as-needed operating expenditures (opex) using off-premises cloud services—shifting from investments in equipment and staff, to leveraging a cloud service provider’s (CSP’s) automated data center infrastructure, supported by highly skilled data center experts. (more…)

Digital Transformation Improves the US Economy and Creates Jobs: The New, “Megadigital” Economy

by Robert Cohen

Steve Case argues in his recent book, The Third Wave, that we are entering a new phase of the Internet and infrastructure where “the Internet will be fully integrated into every part of our lives…every industry leader in every economic sector is at risk of being disrupted.” In The Third Wave, entrepreneurs will use technology to revolutionize major “real world” sectors and transform the way we live. Because of the widespread transformation, we call this economy the megadigital economy[1]. (more…)

How We’ll Know When the Open Infrastructure Revolution Has Arrived

by Peter Burrows

It’s been four long years since VMware bought Nicira for over a billion dollars. That shocking price-tag—for a company with essentially zero revenues—sounded the starting gun for what was expected to be a rush by vendors to create new, open ways for companies to build, operate and monetize their networks. Rather than be locked into whatever the established hardware vendors happened to be selling, chief information officers would soon be able to cobble together the network of their dreams using that miraculous stuff called software. (more…)

Evolving IT Networks from Legacy Silos to Radical Responsiveness

by Ichiro Fukuda

Enterprise companies have historically organized themselves around functional silos such as R&D, marketing, and sales that focus largely on their own respective value chains and fiercely independent agendas. The nature of the network and IT infrastructure that therefore evolved to accompany this kind of business structure naturally emulated its lack of openness, sharing of information, and insights. As industries have undeniably become global and the speed of response that they demand has increased exponentially, enterprise organizations are feeling the heavy economic burden of the constraints of legacy business and technology structures built around these old philosophies. (more…)

Why Testing and Debugging Networks is so Difficult

by Nikhil Handigol

The network lies at the heart of a modern enterprise’s ability to perform its daily business and operations. When a network outage occurs, due to a policy misconfiguration or a device failure, business grinds to a halt. Almost every week, it seems, we read a new headline where a Fortune 500 company suffered the catastrophic consequences of a network outage. These incidents are costly, causing revenue loss and impacting corporate reputation and customer loyalty. In the most extreme cases, outages have triggered both a company bankruptcy and a CEO’s dismissal. (more…)

A Message to IT Executives, “We’re on Our Own and That’s a Good Thing!”

by Nick Lippis

One of the big picture views I’ve gained from working with the ONUG Community and ONUG Board over the past several years is the transformation of big business, due to an evolution taking place within the digital economy. The industry is in the third stage of the computing age that started in the 1950s, expanded exponentially with the internet economy of the late 1990s, and is now enabling new digital businesses due in large part to mobile and cloud computing. As in previous transitions, some executives embrace the change, like Netflix, while others ignore it, remember Blockbuster Video? Those that get it are using digital transformation to create new markets and compete with long established businesses, but the journey is through confused and choppy waters. (more…)

The Three Most Surprising Changes in F500 Enterprise Infrastructure in the Past Year

by Guru Chahal

Avi Networks has been participating in ONUG since 2013. During that time, we’ve been privileged to have worked with many in the ONUG community to help us understand some of the top pain points facing enterprise networks – and in particular L4-7 network services such as load balancing and application security. Today, we are proud to call many in the ONUG community our customers and are thankful for them as they have helped shape our roadmap and help accelerate Avi’s adoption across global enterprises. Some of the top financial services institutions, service providers, and technology firms look to Avi’s technology to solve some of their most pressing traffic management needs – replacing legacy appliances with a modern, software-based elastic fabric. (more…)