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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.