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Summary:

Amazon and Facebook are looking for engineers to work on deploying next-generation software-defined networks. Amazon’s project could bring new services for its cloud customers.

Software-defined networking
photo: Jordan Novet

While software-defined networking (SDN) seems to be still stuck in the hype cycle, use cases from service providers and a few enterprises were on display at the Open Networking Summit last week. And more could be on the way, this time from businesses operating at webscale: Facebook and Amazon.

According to a job description posted on the careers section of Facebook, the social-networking company looks like it wants to deploy software-defined networks at production scale. The right person for the open software-engineer job will head up efforts around “designing and implementing control plane systems for our network.” The job “may involve evaluating third party and open source software,” among other possible tasks. That could mean Facebook wants to explore existing proprietary controllers and other software components from vendors such as Big Switch, alongside the code that will emerge from the OpenDaylight Project vendor-led consortium.

The proposed Facebook SDN hire suggests that Facebook is now ready to go beyond the early-stage work that took place at the beginning of the year and perhaps earlier.

As for Amazon, the retailer and cloud infrastructure provider earlier this month posted openings for an “SDN Software Development Engineer” and a “Systems Engineer” focused on “EC2 High Performance Network Virtualization.”

Amazon has a couple of ideas up its sleeve, judging by the job descriptions. First, it wants to improve the performance of its virtualized networks, to make them perform as well as networks running on bare metal. Then, Amazon wants to make multiple SDN features available to AWS customers. And because AWS is so popular and continues to grow, that could have some neat implications for customers interested in making their bandwidth as scalable as their compute and storage resources.

Amazon and Facebook spokespeople were not able to provide any additional detail. But Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure engineering, and Werner Vogels, chief technology officer at Amazon, will talk at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco on June 19, and maybe then we’ll hear more information.

If the new Facebook and Amazon SDN hires move quickly, next year’s Open Networking Summit could be filled with some of the biggest use cases yet. Even so, wide-scale use of SDN among enterprises might come later next year.

  1. SDN is at an interesting phase with OpenDaylight coming into the picture. There are many startups out there which claim to be doing SDN and they might have to change strategies if OpenDaylight takes off. Yes, there is a lot of hype but there is no doubt that once the bubble subsides, the best technology will filter out and we will know who the VMWare of the networking world is.

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