One of the common taglines parroted by SDN aficionados goes along the lines of “The cost to acquire and manage server and storage architectures has declined over time while networking stays stubbornly expensive.” (I took it straight from an anonymous blog comment).
Let’s see how well it matches reality.
The cost to acquire networking has not declined. I call bullshit. A 64 kbps leased line was 2-3 orders of magnitude more expensive 25 years ago than a 100 Mbps Ethernet circuit is today, for a total of 5+ orders of magnitude, which is almost exactly what the most common variant of Moore’s law (doubling every 18 months) would predict.
On the other hand, it seems that the high-end residential Internet bandwidth grows at approximately 50% year-over-year.
In any case, networking (like any other IT hardware technology) is getting ridiculously cheaper over time.
The cost to acquire server architectures has declined. Maybe. However, the servers, laptops, smartphones or tablets I’m buying are not getting cheaper, they’re just getting more powerful (and the bloatware running on them quickly consumes the extra resources). The same thing is happening in networking. You can get dirt-cheap 1 Gbps switches today (16 port switch costs less than $100 on Amazon) – compare that to what we were paying for them a decade ago.
The cost to manage server and storage architecture has declined. Not everywhere. Storage arrays are still managed with clickety-click UIs, and many enterprises still haven’t figured out what server automation is all about. I’ve seen plenty of enterprise environments where deploying a new VM takes weeks (because so many teams get involved)-
However, I do agree that more people use automation to manage servers than to manage networks.
Networking remains expensive to manage. This is actually a paraphrase of what I think the comment means. Not true – there are numerous organizations (from traditional ISPs and even some traditional enterprises to startups and large web properties) automating their network configuration and management. Some of them have been doing that for decades.
In a more traditional environment, nobody wants to automate a networking device because of excessively large blast radius (listen to this podcast with Jeremy Schulman for more details). Cloud-scale technologies might not apply to your network.
Also, there’s a reason designing cars differs a bit from writing software ;)
Networking can be cheap. Use open-source software on a Linux box instead of routers. Ah, you want to have something that will survive for 5 years in a dusty rack without air-conditioning? Well, you can buy an expensive ruggedized server ;)
Ah, you want support. Well, use a third-tier company like Mikrotik. Not good enough? Maybe what you really want are all the bells and whistles you get from a major vendor at the price of the underlying hardware. Can we stop this discussion, so I can go back to real world, and you can wander back to your pipe dream?