& cplSiteName &

SDN Switches Get a Wave of Support

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

Much has been made of OpenFlow's potential to free up the switching market. Operators could theoretically stop using specialty switches -- the Cisco Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc. and Alcatel-Lucent types -- and instead go for those based on off-the-shelf Ethernet chips. Naturally, the chip industry is rushing to take avantage of this. Plenty of news in and around last week's Open Networking Summit involved these switches -- either commodity white boxes, or higher-end systems that have been based on Broadcom Corp. chips. In most cases, we're talking less about actual switches and more about reference designs -- prefab kits that someone, say, at an original design manufacturer (ODM) in Taiwan could use to quickly bring a switch to market. Big Switch Networks had already announced Switch Light, its open-source reference platform. Here's a rundown of chipmakers and some more software-minded vendors that also showcased switch platforms last week. Intel
The big news out of the show was announced in Wednesday's keynote by Rose Schooler, vice president of the Intel Architecture group at, you know, Intel Corp. Creatively named the Open Network Platform (ONP) Switch Reference Design, it's part of Intel's growing effort to challenge Broadcom in the switching market. The design takes advantage of two Intel acquisitions. The switching chip at the heart of the design is the FM6700, which originated with Fulcrum Microsystems, and the design also includes embedded software from Wind River Systems. It's intended as a top-of-rack switch, the kind that handles all the switching for one data-center rack and, in traditional setups, feeds into an aggregation router. The first production box using the design will be the T3048-IZ1 from Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc., Schooler said. Intel also extended its data plane development kit (DPDK) software to support Open vSwitch virtual switches and announced an ONP server reference design that will be available in the second half of 2013. Centec
The V350 switch reference design from Centec Networks (Su Zhou) Co. Ltd. won the SDN Idol competition at ONS, a kind of interactive best-in-show competition. It beat out Big Switch's Switch Light as well as security demos from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Radware Ltd. and the NTT Communications Corp. Global Enterprise Cloud. Novelty might have helped; Centec is a competitor to Broadcom in Ethernet switching chips, but a distant competitor. It's only now, with a third-generation chip line called GreatBelt, that Centec has a product on par with Broadcom's and at a lower price, CEO James Sun candidly admits. His hope is that GreatBelt can help fuel a generation of white-box switches. Netronome
The NFP-6000 network processor was introduced in May 2012, with availability slated for mid-2013 -- in other words, right about now. Netronome announced a US$19 million round of funding Thursday, to help ramp production. The round was led by DFJ Esprit and also included Intel Capital, Raptor Group and Sourcefire. Yeah, we're kind of cheating here. Netronome's reference design around the NFP-6000 was announced in March, although it was also on display at ONS. The point is that there's potential competition coming from switches based on network processors -- chips more complex and more flow-oriented than your usual microprocessor. The Linley Group had anointed the chip its own category for Netronome's chip: flow processor. "We've been working on what we consider to be a superset of OpenFlow for seven or eight years," Director of Product Management Daniel Proch said at a Linley Group conference in October. Netronome's closest rival among chipmakers would be EZchip Technologies Ltd. -- and guess what, there's an SDN box designed around that company's chip, too. NoviFlow
NoviFlow Inc. doesn't consider itself a switch vendor, even though its appliance can be a switch, one that runs on OpenFlow 1.3 on an EZchip NP4 network processor. What the box really does is execute a variety of functions on the processor. NoviFlow considers itself a software company; its NoviVision virtualization technology is a hypervisor that partitions the EZchip processor to run virtual instances of any packet-based function. So, it's something of a network functions virtualization (NFV) play. NoviFlow spun out of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) last year, having helped demonstrate the first OpenFlow 1.1 switch in 2011. At ONS, the company announced OpenFlow 1.3 support on its NoviSwitch systems. Network processors are complex beasts. NoviFlow and Netronome are targeting higher-end switches rather than commodity boxes. Pica8
In December, Pica8 Inc. announced its SDN reference design, which included a Pica8 white-box switch outfitted with OpenFlow 1.2 and virtual-switch software. Last week, it added management and provisioning features, fleshing out what the company now calls the Open Data Center Framework. That step came out of customer experimentation with the reference design, says Steve Garrision, vice president of product marketing. "We've got the football analogy (first down) and the swimming analogy (toe in the water)," Garrison says. "We want to show everybody the water's fine." For more
Other coverage in, around and about ONS:

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading
(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Moderator
4/30/2013 | 5:54:36 PM
re: SDN Switches Get a Wave of Support
I like that you are looking at the hardware side a bit. A lot of this gets lost because of the S in SDN, but there has to be some devices on which SDN runs. I personally think Intel could be the big winner in all of this; the stuff they are doing with OVS is pretty exciting.

Ultimately, I think the SDN pie will be massive (as much as $35B on the aggressive side based on work we did with SDN Central: http://www.plexxi.com/2013/04/.... It only makes sense for some of that pie to be consumed by some of the hardware guys.

It will be particularly interesting to see if any shifts in market share on the chip side lead to different economics (lower volumes would drive price per unit up).

Mike Bushong
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/22/2013 | 6:24:51 PM
re: SDN Switches Get a Wave of Support
Centec is an interesting case - tiny company taking on Broadcom. We wrote about them in 2011. They think they've finally got the technical chops to compete, but now they have to make the market listen... and in the meantime, Intel has bought Fulcrum and gotten back into switching too.

That 2011 story is here: http://www.lightreading.com/et...
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
WiCipedia: Grace Hopper Promotes Diversity, Girl Scouts Code & How to Thrive
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 10/21/2016
US Issues Total Flight Ban on Samsung Note 7
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/15/2016
Oh Snap! Qualcomm Unveils X50, Its First 5G Modem
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/17/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.