& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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....    

From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBS 2016 Highlights

5|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of Huawei's UBBS event in Hong Kong.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
European 2020 Digital Agenda

5|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Anacom's Fatima Barros discusses the plan to bring ultrafast broadband to Portugal by 2020.
Upcoming Live Events
May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
WiCipedia: Short Skirts & Back-Up Plans
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 5/20/2016
Nokia Plays It Smart With Major Mobile Devices Brand Deal
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/18/2016
Ingenu Revs Up IoT Rhetoric
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/18/2016
Google Doubles Down on Machine Learning, AI
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/19/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
The Takeover Begins Click Here
It all started when Mittens taught himself how to use the Internet.
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.