NEC today slashed the base price of its ProgrammableFlow 6.0 flagship OpenFlow SDN controller from $150,000 to $3,000, looking to entice carriers and enterprises to give it a try.
"It's a pretty significant change in the pricing strategy," says Don Clark, director of strategy and business development (and master of understatement!), NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) of America. "It's an opportunity to get a small start, begin using SDN in a branch office, in a lab setting, and to do that in a cost-effective way."
The new $3,000 license is a starter pack, supporting up to five switches. Beyond that, customers will need to buy additional switch license packs to expand.
Despite the previous high price (which was even more expensive than buying a movie on iTunes), ProgrammableFlow has more than 200 customers, including Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) and Genesis Hosting in Chicago. But NEC networking has had difficulty gaining traction outside of Japan: The vendor is looking to change that, in part by slashing introductory pricing.
NEC is also launching a virtual SDN lab, to allow companies to test the software. "It's surprising, but we never offered a trial version of the controller," Clark says. "By providing an SDK and some demonstration use cases, we want to help the customers get started with the product."
He adds, "The goal is to make the product more accessible."
In addition to the new pricing, ProgrammableFlow 6 adds new features related to campus deployment. Previously, switches and the controller needed to be colocated, but now NEC is increasing the supported separation distance, to allow the controller to control switches across multiple buildings and even between metropolitan areas.
Broadening its networking offering, NEC plans to introduce PFTAP, a network tap for Programmable Flow, to allow operators to do performance analysis, as well as troubleshoot and secure networks. That product is due October 28.
NEC has long been a strong supporter of the OpenFlow vision for SDN. It was an early sponsor of OpenFlow development, and has gone all in on OpenFlow support. While some other vendors have relegated OpenFlow to the edge of their SDN development plans, the Open Networking Foundation protocol is strategic to NEC. In that regard, NEC resembles Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), which recently introduced the OpenDaylight-based Vyatta controller. (See NEC Intros SDN 'Controller of Controllers' and Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller.)