Big Switch, Facebook to Demonstrate Open Switch Software

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-10-07 Print this article Print
network OS

The Open Network Linux news comes days after Hewlett-Packard announced its own open network operating system—OpenSwitch—and community in conjunction with such partners as Intel, Arista Networks, Broadcom and VMware. HP officials said other open OSes didn't offer the flexibility and scalability needed in modern data centers. Big Switch's Forster said the two projects "have different roots and different architectures," noting the forwarding agent architecture of Open Network Linux, which enables users to leverage Linux APIs to develop customized forwarding algorithms to their data center designs.

"I see OpenSwitch featuring a SysDB-style architecture, much like Arista's EOS, optimizing for a similar enterprise market," he said. "Both ONL and OpenSwitch are in the formative stages of their lifecycles, and I don't have a prediction yet on how these two projects will play out. They may even be synergistic down the road. The interplay between the market and the open-source communities is going to be a fascinating one to watch here, and I'm excited to have a front-row seat."

Forster also pushed back at Cisco executives—who, when asked about HP's OpenSwitch OS, said disaggregation may have a role in some instances, but that when organizations look for networking, they also are looking for such capabilities as advanced security and analytics, which come with holistic, integrated offerings like their own.

"Open hardware strategies—like ONL and Big Switch's commercial products—give users vastly more power over their vendors than they previously had," he said. "It is more a commercial than a technical issue. When I look at the security and analytics feature sets in our products and those of our open hardware peers, the diversity and innovation is impressive."

Forster also said that Big Switch's "software engineering team does about 12 major software releases with new features in the same amount of time it takes to design new features into a new ASIC version for closed hardware. It is my view, that difference in velocity for key features, especially when paired with a tight focus on specific user needs, results in more happy end customers faster."



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