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
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Using Service Quality to Drive WiFi Monetization

10|22|14   |   6:51   |   (0) comments


Live from the SCTE conference: Heavy Reading's Alan Breznick explores the forces shaping the WiFi opportunity in an interview with CableLabs' Justin Colwell and Amdocs' Ken Roulier.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 2

10|21|14   |   8:51:00 AM   |   (0) comments


ARRIS CTO Network Solutions Tom Cloonan discusses why many if not most MSOs will continue with integrated CCAP, while addressing why some are also looking at two futuristic, distributed access architectures: Remote PHY and Remote CCAP.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 1

10|21|14   |   9:01   |   (0) comments


SCTE Sr. Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback discusses the pros and cons of distributed access architecture (DAA) and its various forms, which range from basic Remote PHY to full CMTS functionality in the node.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 2

10|21|14   |   3:58   |   (0) comments


ARRIS Senior Solution Architect Eli Baruch talks about how MSOs can enable public and community WiFi through 1) outdoor access points, 2) businesses seeking to offer WiFi to customers, and 3) residential WiFi gateway extensions.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 1

10|21|14   |   10:15   |   (0) comments


SCTE Director of Advanced Technologies Steve Harris discusses WiFi deployments, drivers, challenges and advances, including 802.11ac, carrier-grade WiFi, community WiFi, Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, WiFi-First and voice-over-WiFi.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Is Health the Killer App for the IoT?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 10/22/2014
Drones Hover Over the IoT Sector
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 10/23/2014
Analysts Warn of Major NFV Gaps
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/22/2014
Roku Raises $25M, But for What?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/23/2014
AT&T: Merger Review Halt Won't Hurt Us
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 10/23/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed