Without even debating, I again found myself on the losing end of an argument with VMware’s Martin Casado. In our first conversation over a year ago, he explained to me why network virtualization and specifically NSX, which hadn’t been released at the time wasn’t vaporware. Yesterday, he blew the lid off another one of my theories around Software Defined Networking (SDN) and the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). Casado appeared on Wikibon’s theCube at VMworld and discussed the role of SDN and application development.
Developers don’t care about SDN
My position has traditionally been that one of the key advantages to the SDDC and SDN is the ability of developers to program the network. One of my favorite use cases is for the temporary establishment of secure connections that have a specific quality of service. Once the communication is the complete the applications will tear down the circuit. Casado pointed out the developers have always had the capability to program the network and have chosen not to use the capability.
His argument is that developers don’t and shouldn’t care about the underlying infrastructure. The infrastructure should be controlled by an intelligent software layer that dynamically shapes the underlying infrastructure as the application needs adjust. He compared it to early systems in which the application developer knew everything about the underlying system from memory ranges to cache. Now all of these systems are abstracted and hidden from application developers so that they can focus on higher level functionality.
This jives with one of my earlier concepts where I have argued infrastructure as a service (IaaS) makes no sense and that enterprises should focus on building platforms for developers to consume. At the end of the day, it’s about providing the capability that allows developers to build applications that take full advantage of the underlay without concern of the technical aspects of the underlay.
The last time I lost an argument to Martin he brought me a taco. I’m wondering if I’ll get a burrito out of the deal since he got a big promotion….