Written by Dan Pitt
Dan Pitt is Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation, joining on its public launch in March 2011.
Network performance monitoring is not only crucial for maximum visibility into network, but it also has the potential to play a large, unheralded role in achieving the benefits of software defined networks.
Performance monitoring has the potential to play a large, unheralded role in achieving the benefits of SDN. I've said for a long time that we need to better instrument the network. What we have is the tool for converting real time network conditions to a better match with the corporate objectives.
We have a feedback loop. We know from the top what the objectives are, since we have this consistent system wide programming interface to the top of SDN. A logically centralized place which is great, which rolls out to the whole network. If you have real time feedback loop, you can continually tweak the behavior of the network to align with the organizational objectives.
To do that, you have to be able to measure and convey what you have measured up to the control software that will integrate that and align it with the corporate objectives. In the open and flow protocol, we have already specified in the reverse direction, we send counters. That's a start, but it doesn't go far enough. Whether it's in the management plane, or in the control plane is immaterial, except when it comes to how do you take advantage of the management systems that are there today and move quickly to bring about these benefits by getting the information that has meaning for the network behavior and can be aligned with the organizational objectives.