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NEC Launches SDN-Enabled Switches for Telcos, Service Providers

The networking gear is the latest move by NEC to expand its reach in a rapidly changing and competitive market for SDN and NFV.

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NEC is launching two switches for software-defined networking environments, the latest move by the company to build out its capabilities in the rapidly evolving networking market.

The vendor is now selling the two SDN-compatible switches that officials said enable network configurations that are equivalent to several thousand server racks and target the massive data centers that are run by telecommunications companies and service providers.

One of the switches, the PF5340-48XP-6Q, is a top-of-rack switch with a 48-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface that customers can use to help consolidate servers. Meanwhile, the PF5340-32QP is an aggregation switch that consolidates multiple racks with 32 40GbE ports. Organizations can uses the switches in conjunction with an SDN controller to build out scalable and cost-efficient large data center networks that leverage SDN.

The new switches are part of a larger effort by NEC to expand its reach in the increasingly competitive SDN market, according to Toshio Suzuki, general manager of NEC's Converged Network Division. The company currently has more than 250 system installations worldwide, he said, adding that "these new switches help resolve issues faced when increasing the size of data centers, among them the complexity of operation and difficulties in expansion."

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to enable networks that are more scalable, programmable and agile by removing the control plane and networking tasks like firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention from the underlying hardware and putting them into software. Analysts at IHS Infonetics Research expect the SDN market—including Ethernet switches and controllers—to grow from $781 million last year to $13 billion in 2019, driven by the availability of branded bare-metal switches and the adoption of SDN by enterprises and smaller cloud service providers.

"SDN will cross the chasm in 2016, with SDN in-use physical Ethernet switches accounting for 10 percent of Ethernet switch market revenue," Cliff Grossner, research director for data center, cloud and SDN at IHS Infonetics, said in a statement.

NEC has been aggressive in growing out its SDN and NFV capabilities. Early last year, the company and Hewlett-Packard announced they were partnering to create joint SDN-enabled solutions, while earlier this year unveiling a partnership with Red Hat to develop an OpenStack cloud platform to help service providers more easily embrace NFV in their data centers. NEC in October 2014 launched the latest version of its ProgrammableFlow SDN suite as well as a new pay-as-you-go pricing model.