Why (Networking) Software?

Why software, for any purpose?

  • The simplest answer is: it is the easiest way, for the most engineers, to tell computers what to do, in the most expansive ways.
  • The cloud era adds to that: it is the easiest way, for computer instructions, to be adapted to, the largest scope of computer / storage configurations.

The former can be thought of as the reason why routers have always had control plane processors, executing control plane software. The latter can be viewed as the foundation of many networking innovations occurring today.

Why off-box** software for networking?

  • Because the problems facing network managers today has to do with multiple network elements, not just one.
  • Because there is the opportunity to change the game with service-driven cooperative processing.

While there has always been some level of attention paid to element and network management, the speed at which, and the intelligence with which, decisions need to be made, has increased dramatically.

Off-box software can contribute by:

  1. Applying larger amounts of compute and storage capacity
  2. By consolidating information from multiple elements and treating an intended outcome more holistically
  3. By being provided on commercial terms that align with usage

** Off-box software is defined here as software not executing on a network element itself. Examples would include: network management software, controllers, and centralized analytics.


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