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Cisco Will Support OpenFlow

Craig Matsumoto
10/18/2011
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Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) plans to support the OpenFlow protocol on its Nexus switches, starting with the low-latency Nexus 3000 line.

That's the statement made by David Meyer, a distinguished Cisco engineer, on a Cisco blog late Monday afternoon. He describes OpenFlow and software-defined networking as being simply "the next evolution of networking" and therefore something Cisco wants to be involved with, similar to the way Cisco eventually embraced server virtualization.

He avoids saying when this OpenFlow support will arrive.

Why this matters
It's looking less and less like OpenFlow will be a Cisco-killer. Lately, OpenFlow supporters have been quick to say that the Open Networking Foundation , which now controls the OpenFlow specification, is not all about dethroning Cisco. In fact, Cisco is an ONF member.

That's not to say there's no potential for mischief. OpenFlow is all about issuing commands from the outside to change switches' behavior. That sure sounds like it could replace some switches with generic boxes, erasing (or at least smearing) some of Cisco's market advantages. Maybe that's one reason why most of Cisco's big competitors are ONF members.

For more
Some more thoughts on OpenFlow and its progress:



— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading



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Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:07 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


It's interesting how pragmatic and non-revolutionary the OpenFlow talk has gotten.


Nicira got written up in the WSJ yesterday (it's one of the two best known OpenFlow startups, next to Big Switch) and the CEO said they're "the most non-disruptive disruptive company out there" ... apparently saying Nicira isn't out to drive any incumbents out of business.


http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/what-is-nicira-up-to


It's probably a sensible view, to not presume that OpenFlow will upend the entire switching market. Some middle ground is always more likely.

paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:51:06 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


 


Non-Disruptive Startup - seems like a good way to throw away money.  If you are not going to disrupt a market, how are you planning on making a big ROI for your investors?


seven


 

raid
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raid,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:06 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


More likely just a sensible CEO - keep things quiet until product is ready to launch!


Openflow commoditizes the L2/L3 datapath. Its the dumbing down of the L2/L3 datacenter network. There will be a transfer of revenues from the system companies (Cisco/Alcatel/Juniper) to the chip companies (great for Broadcom) and intelligent software controllers like Nicira. 


Less exotic, less expensive and more useful datcenter network. Classic disruption.


 


 


 

Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:05 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


> There will be a transfer of revenues from the system companies (Cisco/Alcatel/Juniper) to the chip companies (great for Broadcom) and intelligent software controllers like Nicira


Could be. Or, if the systems companies make the transition to software quickly and broadly enough (I'm working on a story that'll elaborate on that point), they could become the consultants that get Software Defined Networking to do what the carriers and enterprises want it to do.

arivanov
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arivanov,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:04 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


Craig,


Are you really sure that he mean exactly and only OpenFlow.


"Software Defined Networking" is a new IETF effort with BOF at the next IETF in Taipei. Dave participated in the discussions leading to setting it up.


If he said Software Defined Networking I suspect he meant exactly that - Software Defined Networking which does not equate to OpenFlow.

paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:51:04 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


 


Which was my point Craig.  If you enter the world and say that I am competing directly with Cisco and Juniper and have no huge set of advantages (aka the disruption) then that is a waste of a startup.


seven


 

raid
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raid,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:03 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


-------------------------------------------


 Or, if the systems companies make the transition to software quickly and broadly enough (I'm working on a story that'll elaborate on that point), they could become the consultants that get Software Defined Networking to do what the carriers and enterprises want it to do.


----------------------------------------


For big companies, it takes years to even agree on evolutionary changes. Think of something this big and imagine them moving fast enough to kill their own products(eg: Juniper killing QFabric) and embracing the changes. Not going to happen.


My money is on the start-ups, with support from benefited players like Broadcom! Then again, Cisco may already have a spin-in plan a la Andiamo - we'll just have to look at the roster of executives in these start-ups to find out.


 





Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:51:03 PM
re: Cisco Will Support OpenFlow


Arivanov -- In the Cisco blog that the story refers to, Dave is mostly about OpenFlow: http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/whats-new-with-cisco-and-openflow/


When he starts talking more generally about disruption and the virtualization example, there he's talking more about SDN.  But the specific news, about Nexus, is specifically about OpenFlow.


But your point is well taken. A lot of the "OpenFlow" discussions are really more about the effects of software-defined networking... which is likely to arise in some fashion, eventually, whether OpenFlow succeeds or not. 


OpenFlow is just a corner of the SDN world. It just happens to be the corner that  touches hardware, which opens up all kinds of interesting discussions.

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