Huawei Boasts SDN-Enabled Router

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. gave the software-defined networking (SDN) sector and its poster-boy protocol OpenFlow yet another shot in the arm today with the announcement of SDN-enabled routers, which are being targeted at carriers that need greater flexibility and efficiency in their IP networks as packet traffic volumes continue to increase.

Huawei says its new virtual routing platform (VRP) product, based on a "large capacity hardware platform," features a "centralized control plane and software-defined forwarding plane, enabling operators to build a SDN-ready network featuring fast service deployment, better resource utilization, and open interface for third party application support."

The vendor claims the router, which supports OpenFlow, will enable operators to introduce new services quickly and cheaply because the routers can be easily adapted to manage any new service without the need for any new forwarding hardware. In addition, claims the vendor, end-to-end path calculation can be achieved using a centralized controller.

For IP core networks, the vendor says its routing-as-a-service (RaaS) enables "control plane distribution and virtualization across chassis and across devices, achieving high-speed forwarding and high reliability." Huawei also boasts a 480Gbit/s forwarding line card on the core router, claiming to be the first to offer such capacity.

The vendor notes that its NE40E core router already supports the OpenFlow 1.2 protocol and has undertaken interoperability tests managed by the Open Networking Foundation .

In the metro router version, the packet forwarding function is separated from the service processing function, with the latter managed centrally using SDN tools. In the access network, Huawei is promoting the use of network virtualization tools to simplify the management of multiple devices.

The announcement comes only weeks after the Chinese vendor outlined its views about how SDN could play a role in carrier networks. It also comes about three months after Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) unveiled its software-based router and about four months after Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) said it had integrated OpenFlow into its routers and switches. (See Huawei Talks SDN, Cisco's Software Router Targets the Cloud and Brocade Sets an SDN Plan.)

Why this matters
Huawei and SDN is a combination that cannot be ignored.

The fact is, though, that any company announcing it has SDN-enabled routers deserves to be noticed. Whether they are commercially viable or not is another matter altogether, but the announcement is certainly intriguing.

It's intriguing also that just four months ago, John Roese, senior VP and general manager of Huawei's U.S. R&D Center & Enterprise Business, told Light Reading Editor-in-Chief Phil Harvey not to get too excited about OpenFlow. (See OpenFlow, SDN & an Industry Uprising.)

Four months is a long time, eh?

For more on SDN:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

hyperunner 12/5/2012 | 5:20:51 PM
re: Huawei Boasts SDN-Enabled Router

A few years back, when we were evaluating Huawei as a router supplier the consensus was that we didn't want to risk using untried software (the hardware looked OK).  So they didn't get the business.

From what I know of this SDN idea, you still need software, but now it's centralized and presumably easier to update if there's a bug.  So does this make it easier for them to gain service provider confidence?

It sort of reminds me of how Juniper got their start in the internet core - they put their operating system on a few PCs and hung them off of friendly ISP backbones to "soak test" the software.

If this is a consequence of an SDN architecture I guess I would be nervous if I was working at Cisco or Juniper.



patentchoi 12/5/2012 | 5:20:47 PM
re: Huawei Boasts SDN-Enabled Router

Announcing a "large capacity platform" without any details on how the OF APIs scale would not give an operator any additional confidence.

Huawei's unique selling point to operators has been a large team of engineers dedicated to each customer that implements the operators customized features. If they are now turning around and asking operators to implement the features on top of OF it seems contradictory.

rainbowarrior 12/5/2012 | 5:20:45 PM
re: Huawei Boasts SDN-Enabled Router

Recently, we seen a number of swithches come out saying they support Openflow. Most of them turned out to have very weak implementations, often in software, having scale and performance numbers that turned out to be rather laughable. 

I'd be interested to hear any substance at all about Huawei's "SDN-enabled" router:

what version of OF does it support?

how many active flows?

flow set up rate?

compatible with current hardware?

when is it released?

so a third-party controller can control Huawei routers? will the routers be discounted if I don't use their routing software?

Without any details at all, what are we supposed to make of this announcement?


Sign In