Building network automation solutions

9 module online course

Start now!

SDN, Windows and Fruity Alternatives

Brad Hedlund made a pretty valid comment to my “NEC Launched a Virtual OpenFlow Switch blog post: “On the other hand, it's NEC end-to-end or no dice”, implicating the ultimate vendor lock-in.

Of course he’s right and while, as Bob Plankers explains, you can never escape some lock-in (part 1, response from Greg Ferro, part 2 – all definitely worth reading), you do have to ask yourself “am I looking for Windows or Mac?

There are all sorts of arguments one hears from Mac fanboys (here’s a networking related one) but regardless of what you think of Mac and OSX, there’s the undisputable truth: compared to reloadful experience we get on most Windows-based boxes, Macs and OSX are rock solid; I have to reboot my Macbook every other blue moon. Even Windows is stable when running on a Macbook (apart from upgrade-induced reboots).

Before you start praising Steve Jobs and blaming Bill Gates and Microsoft at large, consider a simple fact: OSX runs on a tightly controller hardware platform built with stability and reliability in mind. Windows has to run on every possible underperforming concoction a hardware vendor throws at you (example: my “high-end” laptop cannot record system audio because the 6-letter hardware vendor wanted to save $0.02 on the sound chipset and chose the cheapest possible one), and has to deal with all sort of crap third-party device drivers loaded straight into the operating system kernel.

Now, what do you want to have in your mission-critical SDN/OpenFlow data center networking infrastructure: a Mac-like tightly controlled and vendor-tested mix of equipment and associated controller, or a Windows-like hodgepodge of boxes from numerous vendors, controlled by third-party software that might have never encountered the exact mix of the equipment you have.

If you’re young and brazen (like I was two decades ago), go ahead and be your own system integrator. If you’re too old and covered with vendor-inflicted scars, you might prefer a tested end-to-end solution regardless of what Gartner says in vendor-sponsored reports (and even solutions that vendor X claims were tested don’t always work). Just don’t forget to consider the cost of downtime in your total-cost-of-ownership calculations.

We migrated our blog a few days ago, and the commenting functionality is not there yet. In the meantime enjoy the older comments, or find our content on LinkedIn and comment there.


  1. I'm curious which channel partners are working with NEC on their networking solutions. Any readers know?

  2. Hi Jason, I was just about to forward you this article. -KG :-)

  3. Ivan, just a comment on "vendor sponsored report". It wasn't. Just cause HP cited it and bought the rights to reprint it for a certain time period (which any vendors or customers can do with any Gartner report, even all with the same report at the same time as is frequently done with MQs)--doesn't mean it was sponsored. There's no such thing at Gartner.