Light Reading
Cisco and partners promote a new southbound protocol that fits into the router giant's vision of 'declarative control' of a software-defined network.

Goin' South: Cisco Offers 'OpFlex' as Alternative to OpenFlow

Mitch Wagner
4/2/2014
50%
50%

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Cisco is hooking up with partner companies to promote OpFlex, a new southbound protocol between network controllers and devices such as routers and hypervisors.

OpFlexis designed to help carriers and enterprises build virtual networks that incorporate multiple vendors' technology. But OpFlex also has the potential to help Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) fend off competition from white box vendors.

Cisco has submitted OpFlex as a proposed standard to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) , and published it as an open API. Controllers supporting the OpFlex API communicate with an open source software agent running on a switch. "Anyone can come, anyone can consume this API," Mike Cohen, Cisco director of product management, told Light Reading.

OpFlex is intended to promote Cisco's vision of "declarative control" of the network, where the policy manager dictates the network end state, and intelligent devices on the network execute that policy. Declarative control is the alternative to "imperative control," as found in OpenFlow software-defined networks, where the centralized controller has all the intelligence and network devices are dumb.

Cisco believes declarative control is superior to imperative control, which has a single point of failure in the centralized controller. Also, on imperative networks, upgrading device capabilities breaks compatibility with other devices on the network, which is not a problem on a declarative network, Cohen said. And imperative networks require cooperation between the people in application support and network support to make network changes.

What Cohen didn't say is that the strict OpenFlow model threatens Cisco in that it enables the potential use of so-called "white box" switches, rather than the expensive, specialized hardware that is Cisco's bread and butter. So the more Cisco can do to promote declarative networks, the better off Cisco will likely be.

OpFlex will be built into hypervisors and software from Canonical, Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT). And Avi Networks, Citrix, Cisco-backed Embrane Inc. , and F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV) will ship an OpFlex agent with their appliances. (See Embrane Taps Ex-Spirent Boss Bill Burns as CEO.)

Not surprisingly, missing from the list of partners were some big switch and virtualized network vendors that, well, aren't Cisco, such as Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW).

Cohen said Cisco is working with its partners initially, and hopes to broaden support to other companies later. Of course, Cisco's competitors don't have significant incentive to support OpFlex early on, and without their support the standard looks unlikely to move beyond Cisco's sphere of influence, significant though that may be.

OpFlex is part of Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure, a hybrid physical and virtual strategy using Nexus 9000 switches and an Application Policy Infrastructure Controller that centralizes and automates policy management for the Nexus 9000 fabric. It can manage up to 1 million endpoints. (See Cisco's ACI Gets Physical With SDN.)

Cisco is working with OpenDaylight, which is developing an open source SDN controller, to create an open source ACI-compatible policy model and OpFlex reference architecture. Cisco, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Midokura , and Plexxi will contribute to the project.

Cisco says it plans to support OpFlex on a range of products including Nexus, ASR, and ASA, and Sourcefire hardware and software.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.


Want to learn more about SDN and the transport network? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.


(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/26/2014
Utilities to Pump $11.2B Into Smart Grid – Study
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 8/26/2014
Verizon Launches QR Code Security Solution
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/26/2014
Nokia's Maps Land on Samsung Devices
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/29/2014
Verizon to Launch HD VoLTE in 'Coming Weeks'
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/26/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed