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Day 1: MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2012 – The Cloud Impact

This post has been contributed by Tom Nadeau, VP/Principle Architect at CA Technologies. Sincere thanks to him for sharing his thoughts and observations!

The MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2012  (link below), by far the largest gathering in the world of  MPLS and Ethernet practitioners, concluded in Paris last week, and was a big success!

The main theme of the conference this year was “The Cloud Impact”, and resulted in topics being largely cloud/datacenter and Software Driven/Defined Network (SDN) focused.     The conference was well attended this year, with 1200+ delegates attending, with about 75% coming from various service providers and enterprises, and the remainder from device and software vendors.  The demographics of attendees was widely dispersed again, as is always the case: with a large number of participants from Europe, America and Asia with even some from Africa and South America (Brazil, in particular).

On the first day of the conference (Tutorials Day) tutorials were presented that focused on these topics, with at least 50% focusing on SDN.    Day 1 of the conference saw keynotes from Yakov Rekhter of Juniper Networks, and one from Sunil Khandekar of Alcatel-Lucent on Clouds, data centers, MPLS, and SDN.  It is clear that the strategic focus of both of these companies lies in these areas.  A number of presentations including my own were focused on SDN and how it will impact data centers, MPLS, Ethernet and cloud technologies. My presentation focused on what I see as an inflection point in the networking and software industries, where the areas of networks and applications are more closely aligned via SDN. There seems to be not only significant interest in the industry around SDN, but a number of companies actually building it too (for example, check out the excellent panel on “Open-Flow: What’s Real, What’s Virtual” chaired by Dave Meyer of Cisco (Feb. 6th, 2012), at the just concluded NANOG54 in San Diego. This panel had some interesting insights from Ed Crabtree of Google, Guido Appenzeller of Big Switch Networks (one of the folks building Open-Flow-based tools), and Curt Beckman of Brocade on the state of Open-Flow 1.0, the additions in 1.1, and the major changes expected in 2.0.)   The remainder of the Day 1 was punctuated by a number of good presentations, with one, in particular, from François Lecerf, CTO, Ipanema Technologies titled “MPLS as an Enabler of Cloud Computing?”

From Cloud to MPLS: The debate on Day One chaired by Jean-Marc Uze (Juniper), and featuring Nils Swart (Juniper), Wim Henderickx (ALU), John Evans (Cisco), Thomas Nadeau (CA Technologies), Peter Kao (IP Infusion). Also featuring (as questioners) Kireeti!, Yuri Gittick (RAD), Maciek K (Juniper), and Chris Martin (Juniper). (To enjoy the exchanges, click the link above this post!)

The day ended with a panel discussion/debate that I was a panelist for entitled, “From Cloud to MPLS“.  The debate was focused on the impact of cloud-based services on MPLS, and how the industry was changing to evolve technologies to better suit and deliver cloud-based services such as SaaS.  The debate was lively (check out a few clips now; a more detailed version coming soon!) and about 400 people remained in the audience to participate.   The conclusions of the discussions were that while technologies like OpenFlow are not obviously immediately applicable in many environments due to existing alternatives being available, there is potentially a place for technologies like this going forward.  There was also a strong message that there is a strong desire for network operators to start using and deploying Software Driven (versus Defined) Network technologies and solutions.

So, what were your experiences at the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress this year? What stood out in your mind on Day One? Which issues jumped out at you? Do share them below, and share your knowledge and observations with the larger community!

Also, don’t forget to also check out  the exciting developments on Day Two and Day Three of the conference!

Link to the MPLS Ethernet World Congress February 6-10, 2012  Paris, France.