Aria Networks recently attended the SDN & NFV Summit 2014, which showcased some of the very latest developments and innovations in the virtualisation space.

This year the show had a whole host of exciting new features and hosted a very impressive speaker lineup.

One of the keynote speakers that made quite an impression at the summit was Omar Baldonado.  Omar leads Facebook’s networking software team, which is responsible for large-scale software systems that control and manage the company’s global social network.  Omar also manages the group’s expansion into SDN and its work with the Open Compute Project community, aiming to create a set of disaggregated and fully open networking technologies.

Omar explained how telecoms operators need to embrace SDN and focus on training their staff to think more about software.  Facebook is looking at SDN as a method of overcoming network problems, although Omar does not view the technology as a ‘cure all’ for the challenges the social network faces.  Omar revealed that the network hits limits and that he has to explain to product teams why they will have to wait to launch their latest offering, as the network is not yet capable of handling it.

Telecoms companies have long been criticised for the length of time it takes to bring a new product to market and will surely be comforted to hear that even Facebook faces these challenges too.  However, Omar did warn that emerging technology should not be viewed as a panacea.  He explained that by saying SDN will solve everything we are doing it is a disservice.  SDN can be applied to help manage the ever-increasing complexity of networks, but there will never be a completely ‘clean’ network.

Networks are always in a state of transition and the introduction of SDN will not change things overnight.  Given operators’ legacy infrastructure, Omar admitted that Facebook has “a simpler problem” on its hands than its telecoms rivals, but said his warning still stood.  He also claimed it is not too late for operators to start innovating with SDN, however, he advised that the focus should not be on the technology, but the people employed to implement it.