October 18, 2012, 2:40 PM — SAN DEIGO -- If the OpenStack Summit held this week is any indication, virtual networking is a hot IT topic.
A panel discussion about virtual networking in the cloud featuring representatives from HP, Big Switch and Midokura was packed to the brim. Talks by engineers from eBay and Nicira about their software-defined networking implementations in an even larger conference room were standing room only.
There could be a variety of reasons the topic seems to have piqued the interest of so many of the more than 1,400 attendees at this year's show.
The latest release of OpenStack (Folsom), for the first time, has a virtual networking component named Quantum fully baked into the code as a core project.
The discussions have not just been about Quantum though -- they've been focused more the idea that next-generation networking will be, if it isn't already, an essential part of cloud computing in general.
"To get elasticity in the cloud, you need elasticity of the network." And SDN is the way to do that, says Boris Renski, co-founder of Mirantis, a company that helps enterprises deploy OpenStack-powered clouds.
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SDN and virtual network technology are their early days, admits Mike Cohen of Big Switch Networks, one of the growing number of vendors in this emerging landscape. So far, early adopters of SDN have been interested in the technology for two main reasons: First, virtualizing the network by abstracting core networking functions from the underlying hardware inherently makes the data center or network environment more efficient. It's similar, Cohen says, to how server virtualization made computing more efficient. Second, SDN allows networks to programmatically scale, providing much more agility in controlling the network.