SDN architectures

Big Switch Claims Its Place in SDN

Big Switch Networks didn't get acquired by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) or anything, but the company says it's making big strides building a web of partners that are furthering the software-defined networking (SDN) cause.

Big Switch announced Monday that Floodlight, the open-source version of its OpenFlow controller core, has been downloaded more than 6,000 times, up from 4,000 in the spring.

There's no way of telling who's downloading it, of course. But it's pretty obvious that it's not high-schoolers mistaking OpenFlow for some epic new video game or movie pirating site. Companies that have worked with Floodlight include Arista Networks Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL).

Why this matters
By offering Floodlight on an open-source basis, Big Switch has helped catalyze industry interest in OpenFlow. Rather than wait for standards, the company is taking open source's "more the merrier" approach toward spreading SDN's influence, CEO Guido Appenzeller says.

That's particularly true when it comes to the application programming interfaces (APIs). Vendors and customers are developing their own APIs connecting an OpenFlow controller up to applications or down to switches (real or virtual).

For some customers, that hodgepodge approach is preferable to trusting a large company such as Cisco or VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), which recently acquired SDN hotshot Nicira Networks Inc.

"We've seen customers say, 'We were looking at Nicira before, but we really want to get away from VMware,'" Appenzeller says. "Nobody believes VMware will really push the multi-hypervisor capabilities" that Nicira brings. (For the record, VMware is saying that it absolutely will support a multi-hypervisor world, because that's the way it expects future networks to look.)

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— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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