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OpenFlow and SDN picking up steam with networking vendors

By Steve Brar, Global Product Marketing Manager, HP Networking


SDN momentum


Steve BrarAccording to IDC, the software-defined networking (SDN) market will grow from virtually zero today to 2 billion dollars by 2016. This may appear to be a very aggressive outlook, but there is a lot of excitement around SDN in the market today and vendors like HP have already released enterprise-ready SDN-based solutions. HP also has a long history of leadership in software-defined networking and OpenFlow technology. I am seeing many of our customers and partners starting to ask about SDN and how it can deliver more automation while simplifying networking. They are starting to realize that the days of the command-line interface (CLI) are numbered and that there is a better way.


Last week another networking vendor, Brocade, announced its SDN strategy with support for OpenFlow acrossBrocade Announcement several product lines. It is encouraging to see other networking vendor embracing this technology and we expect more vendors to follow our lead. Critics may say vendors are just jumping on the software-defined networking bandwagon, but I believe announcements like this are the first step in delivering the promise of SDN solutions and their associated benefits to customers. Although the OpenFlow protocol is just one enabling technology for SDNs, it will be essential to enabling multi-vendor and interoperable SDNs. This is precisely why earlier this year HP started to introduce enterprise-ready OpenFlow support across many of its networking products.


In addition, HP recently introduced our Virtual Application Networks strategy for enterprise-ready software-defined networks along with a solution that helps speed cloud application deployments.


OpenFlow hybrid mode


Similar to HP’s implementation, Brocade is offering OpenFlow in hybrid mode. HP has been offering OpenFlow in hybrid mode on 16 models of supported platforms since early this year. Hybrid mode is required for customers looking to deploy SDN on their existing networks by allowing traditional networking protocols to run in parallel with OpenFlow.


SDNs for the cloud and beyond


As I mentioned earlier, HP recently unveiled its SDN strategy, Virtual Application Networks. Virtual Application Networks enable customers to focus more on connecting users to applications and less on managing complex infrastructure by transforming a rigid physical enterprise network into a fully programmable, multi-tenant and application-aware virtual network. Virtual Application Networks enable IT staff to deliver applications via a set of templates of standardized, pre-determined parameters and policies. Virtual Application Networks are independent of geographical location and access device and span from the applications in the data center to the end users in the campus and branch. Virtual Application Networks will leverage technologies such as OpenFlow to enable more programmable, software-defined networks.


HP has also partnered with F5 to offer the industry’s only automated policy-based single-pane-of-glass management from the application to the user covering the entire network stack from layer 2 through 7. HP Virtual Application Networks focus primarily on layers 2-4 whereas F5’s Application Delivery Networks (ADN) operate on layers 4-7. Together, these technologies help further simplify management while making it easier to deliver applications to users.


A closer look at Virtual Application Networks


A closer look at Virtual Application Networks


Virtualize by extending a control plane across the entire network


HP's Virtual Application Networks SDN strategy spans the HP FlexNetwork architecture and promises to deliver end-to-end enterprise-grade solutions for the data center, campus and branch office with single-pane-of-glass management through the HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC) platform.


Further reading


A clean sheet approach: Virtual App Networks – HP & F5 mark the beginning of the end of CLI


FlexFabric Virtual Application Networks – bringing L4-7 services into the picture


Virtual Application Networks: A platform for integrating networks into the cloud


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