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A brief history: OpenFlow, SDNs and Virtual Application Networks

HP Virtual Application Networks: Delivering Software-Defined networking - Part 2


By Steve Brar, Global Product Marketing Manager, HP Networking


sb.jpg2012 has been a busy year for networking and I can’t believe we are only 3/4s of the way through. This year, I’ve seen some technologies getting more attention, including networking for the cloud and bring your own device (BYOD). But one set of technologies in particular has picked up a lot of steam and that is Software-Defined Networking (SDN). If you aren’t up to speed on SDN just yet, check out my colleague’s blog post from last week, “Checking in on the state of software-defined networking” as it outlines where the industry is with the technology today.


I have been lucky enough to be a part of several major SDN-related innovations and announcements HP has introduced over the past year. I wanted to give a quick recap of those in case you haven’t been able to keep up.


Enabling standards-based SDN infrastructure


It’s been nearly five years since HP started collaborative work on what would become the OpenFlow standard. In February of this year, HP released commercial OpenFlow support on our switches.


HP Networking examined the successes our research and academic customers were having with our beta OpenFlow software and we felt it was the right time to make a move. We have long recognized the potential of the technology to spur the next-wave of innovation in networking by enabling software-defined networking. While other vendors were (and still are) mulling their SDN strategies and whether or not OpenFlow would commoditize networking, we decided to make the bold move of releasing OpenFlow-enabled software for 16 of our switch models representing over 10 million installed ports with a commitment to expand support across our FlexNetwork portfolio.



Vendor landscape: # of commercially available switch with general availability of OpenFlow software


We did this all at no cost to our customers by providing OpenFlow-enabled software for free via download. Why would we do this? We recognize OpenFlow is a building block for SDNs and as a leader in the networking industry, it is our responsibility to champion these innovations. At HP, our philosophy is to deliver innovation and value to our customers building upon open-standards for our converged infrastructure and FlexNetwork offerings. Looking back, I know we did the right thing and OpenFlow has gained even more industry support since our introduction.


HP Virtual Application Networks launch


While the industry has been buzzing with talk of OpenFlow and SDNs, there is still a lot of confusion out there around these technologies. We at HP recognize that SDNs are much more than just a single protocol such as OpenFlow, but rather are an emerging architecture. We also recognize that SDNs are a means to an end, and ultimately our customers aren’t necessarily looking for specific technologies but rather the same things they have always been seeking, better business outcomes. That being said, SDNs have the potential to deliver, and deliver in a radical new way.


In April, HP launched our Virtual Application Networks vision for software-defined networking. We decided that SDN was going to be an integral part of our FlexNetwork architecture and that we would build a robust control plane that would span from the data center, campus, to the branch.


The concept of HP Virtual Application Networks bears in mind that in order to deliver on the full value of SDNs one must take into consideration both the end-to-end path an application takes from where it is served in the data center or cloud to where it is delivered to a user as well as the entire technology stack including the infrastructure, control plane, network application, business applications, and network management. There is a lot of SDN washing going on with vendors equating SDN to only certain pieces of the puzzle; however the big picture must be examined.



 HP FlexNetwork Architecture with Virtual Application Networks vision


Since launching Virtual Application Networks, we have also introduced some initial solutions that are essential elements and key enablers of the SDN ecosystem and vision including:


These new solutions are innovations for both infrastructure and management that speed application deployment, automate management and ensure SLAs for virtualized, multi-tenant and cloud environments. These technologies prove that SDN is neither the end of hardware or management innovation and will help us ensure we deliver our customers functional solutions, not just the next must-have technology.


So what’s next?


Next week is sure to be an exciting one. I am headed across the country to New York and I invite you to come and check out HP Virtual Application Networks innovations at Interop 2012 New York happening October 1-5. Or, if you can’t make it in person, go online and check out some of the videos from the show floor.


>>Your cloud, your way: Join HP Networking at Interop NY 2012


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