Fifteen vendor participants in the Interop lab were showing beta products. They included Big Switch, Broadcom, Brocade, Citrix, Dell, Extreme Networks, Fulcrum, HP, IBM, Juniper, Marvell, NEC, NetGear and NetOptics. Pronto Systems, a maker of switches that can run OpenFlow software, contributed products that are already shipping.
The demonstration showed OpenFlow controllers, switches acting as OpenFlow agents and OpenFlow applications performing functions like bandwidth calendaring, network virtualization, load balancing, virtual switching and virtual network "slicing." Separately, individual vendors discussed plans to support or study the technology to potentially configure their switches as OpenFlow controllers or agents.
HP, for example, plans to stuff its 5406 switch chassis with server blades to configure the switch as an OpenFlow controller to manage and monitor quality-of-service delegations among OpenFlow switch clients. The company does not have a timeframe, however, for delivering this capability on the 5400 series switches, says Erik Papir, a technical marketing official in HP's networking group.
Papir likens OpenFlow to VMware's vSphere hypervisor software for implementing and managing virtualization in a data center or enterprise network.
"It's more of a control plane or management solution than a switching solution," he says. "It gives you vendor independency and a single pane-of-glass view."
Extreme has an OpenFlow agent software module for its XOS operating system in customer trials. It's being tested with OpenFlow controllers from NEC and Big Switch Networks, says Shehzad Merchant, Extreme senior director of strategy.
Start-up Gnodal, a maker of 1RU 10G and 40G Ethernet top-of-rack and fabric switches, will ship an OpenFlow agent by the end of the year. The company says there are still wrinkles to iron out with OpenFlow 1.1, though.
"There are deployment over larger scale and production use issues," says Fred Homewood, Gnodal CEO. "It's fine on medium scale but we're looking at hundreds of thousands of ports."
Homewood believes the Open Networking Foundation will address OpenFlow's scale issues.