ESnet Co-Leads Washington Workshop on Developing Prototype SDN Network


About 100 networking experts from academia, industry, national labs and federal agencies met for a two-day workshop at the National Science foundation to plan a path forward to develop, deploy and operate a prototype SDN network. SDN, or Software Defined Networking, is an upcoming technology paradigm aimed at making it easier for software applications to automatically configure and control the various layers of the network to improve flexibility, predictability and reliability.

ESnet Chief Technologist Inder Monga was the lead organizer of the workshop and ESnet network engineer Erich Pouyoul gave a talk on science drivers for SDN. Monga also led a breakout session on “Technology and Operational Gap Analysis.” ESnet has been a pioneer in developing and deploying SDN technology in support of data-intensive science for almost a decade, starting with research on virtual network circuits that eventually culminated in the facility’s OSCARS project, recipient of a 2013 R&D100 award.

The invitation-only workshop was held at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va., and included speakers from the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Google, DARPA, Internet2, SRI and Brocade, as well as ESnet. Among the areas covered were transparency and interoperation among SDN domains, security and identity management, and the participation of equipment vendors to advance technology transfer.

The workshop was organized after the OSTP directed federal agencies participating in the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Subcommittee’s Large Scale Networking (LSN) Coordinating Group to plan and hold an LSN workshop. The goal was to have participation by representatives from federal agencies, the commercial sector, researchers, and other networking and distributed systems research community participants to explore and report on the need for a prototype SDN network.

The workshop participants will draft a report documenting recommendations for needed R&D, resources and collaboration to deploy and operate the prototype SDN network and to identify future SDN research needs.

On the eve of the workshop, Federal Computer Week magazine published an article about federal agencies looking into SDN. Monga was among the sources interviewed for the article, which describes SDN as the next major architectural change looming for the IT community.

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  ESnet Chief Technologist Inder Monga