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Innovating today for the network demands of tomorrow

After a lack of major progress in networks for 10 years, HP is bringing innovation back to the networking industry.  It’s a critical time given that most legacy networks are on the brink, overburdened by the explosion of data, communication and technology services.

The research underway in the Networking and Communications Lab of HP Labs aims to solve these problems.  By delivering technology that is an order of magnitude faster but only a tenth of the cost of today’s networking gear, HP intends to help customers reach the goal of a fully and rapidly customized network fabric that can be re-programmed to meet their evolving, and perhaps yet unknown, requirements.

In pursuit of this goal, two areas HP Labs is exploring include flexible programmable networks and optical backplanes.

With flexible programmable networks using OpenFlow technology, network administrators are able to connect users to applications in a more direct way. OpenFlow enables networks to be flexible and evolve by giving a remote software “controller” the power to change features or performances of devices on a network through certain established programmed “rules”. These “rules” help to control the flow of data within the network and also across multiple network devices, improving the overall data traffic flow and easing the introduction and deployment of new applications and features.

HP Labs Distinguished Technologist Charles Clark provides a great explanation of OpenFlow in this video:


For the hardware infrastructure, HP is conducting research around optical backplanes to replace the electrical backplane used to route traffic in network switches today. Existing networks currently run 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s speed network devices. If transmissions are to go faster than this, which they will need to do based on trends in current usage, there needs to be a different way to pass data, and optical backplanes is the solution for that challenge.

HP Labs Distinguished Technologist Mike Tan demos HP's innovative optical backplane technology in this video:



Transforming today’s networks is not something that can happen overnight; companies have legacy applications and infrastructure that will take time to migrate and systems to rebuild. The good news is that this is the first time in a decade that network technologies are evolving with the demands of the network. HP is at the forefront of this evolution with a migration plan and roadmap for customers.

To learn more about how HP Labs and the technical leads in HP’s Networking group are working together to help HP customers handle the network demands of the years to come, watch this video of Networking and Communications Lab Director David Lee from the recent HP Networking Innovation Day.

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