Light Reading

Big Switch Girds for SDN Battle

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
11/13/2012
50%
50%

In coming out with its first commercial product, Big Switch Networks seems ready to define some battle lines in software-defined networking (SDN). As expected, the company is promoting a network architecture that uses OpenFlow to program Ethernet switches. As has been fashionable in SDN circles lately, Big Switch is also espousing the idea of a hybrid network -- one where OpenFlow-enabled gear is installed next to traditional routers and switches. That's not quite the same as the overlay model proposed by Nicira Networks Inc. -- now owned by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) -- and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Those companies talk about using APIs to create tunnels for certain types of traffic, whereas Big Switch would use OpenFlow to reprogram the forwarding tables of switches. The other way has the backing of two large companies. But Big Switch, in making its first commercial-products announcement on Tuesday, is bringing in more than 25 partners, including five major switch vendors. "They're very far along. We're really impressed by them," says Eve Griliches, an analyst with ACG Research .

Opening up
Big Switch calls its vision of the network Open SDN, and it's based on a familiar three-layer setup proselytized by the Open Networking Foundation . Big Switch uses its controller to talk "south" to network infrastructure (Ethernet switches, primarily) and, separately to receive commands from cloud orchestration tools via "northbound" APIs. The controller could use any protocol to talk southbound, in theory, but OpenFlow is the one that's in the market now, and that's where Big Switch is putting its efforts. One crucial element of Big Switch's plan is the use of open interfaces in the north and south directions. Nicira supports open interfaces northbound but doesn't have as universal an approach on the southbound side. The openness is what's allowed nearly all the major switch vendors to team up with Big Switch. Namely, they can create interfaces so Big Switch can talk to switches that don't support OpenFlow. At the last two Interop shows, held in September and May, vendors seemed to be climbing over each other to declare interoperability with Big Switch. That sets up a pretty big distinction. "Nicira only works southbound with their own virtual switch," Griliches says. "Big Switch operates with any OpenFlow-enabled physical or virtual switches in the network." Service providers would prefer to see the northbound and southbound interfaces be open, Griliches says. That's because a groundswell of applications is expected to emerge now that SDN has become a hot and venture-fundable area, and no carrier wants to suddenly find out its applications don't work on a particular vendor's gear. Tuesday's announcement lists five of the biggest switch vendors among Big Switch's partners: Arista Networks Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). As for the companies not included -- yeah, Cisco is on that list. "As of right now, we are not working with them," says Jason Matlof, Big Switch's vice president of marketing. Nuts and bolts
The central piece being announced Tuesday is the Big Network Controller, Big Switch's OpenFlow controller. Big Switch already made the heart of the controller, Floodlight, available via open source. For its production release, the Big Network Controller adds some heavy-duty enterprise features, such as support for high-availability clusters, or other features tied to performance at high scale. The latter point is important, because while Big Switch is announcing general availability of its products Tuesday, it's been running them in production networks -- the types owned by financial firms and content providers -- for some time, Griliches says. "If you've got guys who are already using it in production networks where their traffic is equivalent to Tier 1s, I don't think you have to worry about scalability," she says. Big Switch is also announcing two applications of its own: Big Virtual Switch, which automatically provisions virtual machines into servers, and Big Tap, a network monitoring aid that replicates data information to promulgate among several monitoring tools. For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:47 PM
re: Big Switch Girds for SDN Battle


I emphasized the southbound partners (Ethernet switch vendors) but the majority of the 25+ partners announced today are on the northbound side. Lots of them are little cloud companies I haven't heard of yet -- but Microsoft and Citrix stand out, as do (on the security side) F5, Radware and Palo Alto.


The difficulty with the "open" philosophy is that you have to work at all these partnerships. Otherwise, you get an open interface that nobody's bothering to use.


I'm definitely seeing a Big Switch vs. VMware vs. Cisco battle heating up. If you see it differently, do let us know.

big_thinker
50%
50%
big_thinker,
User Rank: Lightning
12/5/2012 | 5:17:45 PM
re: Big Switch Girds for SDN Battle


agreed... they can give run for the money to major players like vmware and cisco and others....    

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Intros Smart Device for eLTE

3|30|15   |   05:25   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed a secure, location-aware multimedia smartphone for its eLTE trunked radio solution, says Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Win Video, Win All

3|30|15   |   06:44   |   (0) comments


Video is going to be the next main source of revenue for operators. Operators have big opportunities and advantages to monetize video services. Globally, Huawei has helped more than 70 operators achieve over 30 million video subscribers. Watch this video for more.
LRTV Custom TV
The Benefits of HyperScale Clouds for NFV

3|27|15   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Hyperscale cloud has been developed by the Internet giants to support the creation and delivery of software-based services at blistering speeds, and at the lowest possible cost. The original ETSI NFV vision was to adopt hyperscale cloud architecture and practices. This vision has become somewhat obscured along the way, due to misunderstandings about the hyperscale ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (9) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Woos SMBs With Small-Scale WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/26/2015
Just Don't Say IBM Is 'Relaunching' Networking Business
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/26/2015
TV Everywhere Nears Mainstream Adoption
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/27/2015
Carriers Are Bright Spot in BlackBerry Q4
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/27/2015
Comcast Says TWC Deal Will Close Later
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.
Cats with Phones
Interspecies Phone Love Click Here
"No, you hang up."
"No, YOU hang up."
Latest Comment