Light Reading

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        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
Verizon Hums a Driving Tune
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/26/2015
Gogo Approved to Speed Up In-Flight WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/24/2015
Could Market Volatility Hurt Tech IPOs?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/24/2015
Sprint's Claure: '3 to 5 Years' to Turnaround
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about data center, cloud and the impact of virtualization in the coming years.
Cats with Phones
Cats Are a Smartphone's Best Friend Click Here
Whoever said cats didn't live to please their humans?