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NEC Slashes OpenFlow SDN Controller Pricing

From $150,000 to $3,000 – that's a big price cut.

Mitch Wagner

October 13, 2014

2 Min Read
NEC Slashes OpenFlow SDN Controller Pricing

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."

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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.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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