Extreme Embraces Commodity OpenFlow Gear
The open-sourcing of an entire switch platform seems like a huge chance to commoditize switch vendors, but it could also be a chance to extend their markets and better exploit any adoption of the OpenFlow protocol.
Extreme Networks Inc. certainly sees it that way. As Big Switch Networks announced its Switch Light open-source design Tuesday morning, Extreme followed up by announcing it will use the platform to build a branded line of commodity switches. (See Big Switch Fuels Ethernet Revolution.)
The markets associated with early OpenFlow deployment -- financial houses or those newfangled Web 2.0 kids -- haven't been strong customers of Extreme's. With Switch Light, the company not only sees another way to boost its software-defined networking (SDN) presence, but a way to expand its market reach.
"We're beginning to engage a set of customers that are beginning to look more seriously at SDN and ask what an optimized SDN deployment would look like," says David Ginsburg, Extreme's senior vice president of strategic marketing.
The consensus in SDN circles is that hybrid deployments -- those that include traditional, pre-SDN/OpenFlow gear -- will be the norm. Most switch vendors believe that the gear they sell today will remain relevant, then.
The Switch Light boxes Extreme sells would be the same vanilla boxes sold by Taiwanese ODMs such as Accton and Quanta, but with Extreme's logo on them and Extreme's chosen brand name, Slolam. The difference would be in Extreme's support offerings.
"If I'm going into an enterprise account or a service provider account, they want their switch to be backed up by a company that has a global service and support footprint," Ginsburg says.
Extreme was one of the first vendors to embrace OpenFlow -- or, really, clutch it in an oxygen-depriving bear hug. Big Switch pitches OpenFlow as the start of a new networking epoch where proprietary switch/router systems don't necessarily rule the earth, and to a smaller Cisco Systems Inc. competitor like Extreme, that has to sound like a good deal. (Brocade Communications Systems Inc. was enthusiastic in the early days as well.)
Here's Ginsburg, speaking to us last fall SDN in general: Other stories about OpenFlow, SDN and their impact:
- OpenFlow, SDN & an Industry Uprising
- Big Switch Girds for SDN Battle
- Q&A: David Meyer, Brocade's New SDN Expert
- SDN & the Commodity Question (video)