Interop Watch: Talking OpenFlow & 100G
It seems everybody has a fabric strategy, but HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) officials say they went bigger, creating a network architecture that extends from the fabric out to the data center. It's called FlexNetwork, and it adds to the list of data-center strategies being peddled by vendors. (See Brocade Develops a Cloud Complex, Force10's Fabric Is a Quilt, AlcaLu Wants the Data Center, Too, Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers and How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center.)
The key is a management system that controls multiple vendors' equipment and provides a network-wide view out to the branch office. HP is hoping the technology, combined with HP's deep enterprise roots, will appeal to network owners.
"Either there are companies such as Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), with QFabric, that are focusing on the data center and not the campus, or there are companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) that are too big" and want to own too much of the network, says Kash Shaikh, HP director of product marketing.
FlexNetwork is being announced today, along with products including the A10500 switch for campus networks. It's big enough to replace the aggregation layer in campus networks, HP officials say -- making it analogous to the A12500 series of switches, which do the same for the data center.
NEC opens up
On Monday, NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) is announcing the ProgrammableFlow line of Ethernet switches based on the OpenFlow switching specification.
It's a bet that vendors can use OpenFlow to chisel away at Cisco, since the specification could make it easier for carriers and enterprises to build networks out of multiple vendors' equipment. (See Why OpenFlow Isn't Like Active Networking.)
"We realized this was an opportunity for us to break into the global market, as it represented a disruptive change in the way switches are built and sold," says Don Clark, NEC's U.S. director of business development.
In Japan, NEC is a top-three switch vendor, but it doesn't really sell switches anywhere else. To some markets, an NEC Ethernet switch might be as incongruous as a Swedish sumo wrestler.
OpenFlow lets a group of switches be run by an outside controller, and NEC is describing the effects as having a network behave like one big switch. That kind of topology-flattening has become an obsession among data-center equipment vendors.
Xilinx acquires again
Xilinx Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX) is adding a traffic manager to the 100Gbit/s Optical Transport Network (OTN) platform it announced at OFC/NFOEC in March. (See Xilinx Acquires Omiino, Demos 100G.)
Like the March announcement, this one's powered by a small acquisition of a semiconductor cores company: Modelware Inc. , a seven-person outfit founded by Bell Labs veterans in Red Bank, N.J., about 10 years ago. Xilinx is announcing the deal Monday, along with the new 100Gbit/s design. (See Modelware Unveils IP Cores.)
Modelware brings expertise in Layer 4 through 7 processing -- traffic manager stuff -- but also makes cores for older protocols such as ATM, which could apply to mobile backhaul designs.
Yes, this item could have gone into a "100G Watch" column, but Interop is the thing that's happening now, and Xilinx will be there demonstrating the 100Gbit/s platform inside a Virtex-6 FPGA.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading