Big Switch Launches Online Test Site for Its SDN Offerings

Through BSN Labs, partners and customers can try out for free such Big Switch products as Big Cloud Fabric and Big Tap monitoring tool.


Big Switch Networks officials are looking to rapidly expand the reach of its software-define d networking portfolio by making it easier for administrators to test the products and for partners to sell the technology to end users.

Big Switch on Feb. 19 launched BSN Labs, a Web portal through which network administrators and architects can try out the range of products offered by the vendor, including its Big Cloud Fabric and Big Tap monitoring tool. Those interested can register for a free account and gain online access to the software-defined networking (SDN) products through a cloud-based test-bed environment, according to officials.

"BSN Labs lets architects have instant access to the most advanced SDN products available today, and the basic training modules take less than an hour to complete," company founder Kyle Forster said in a statement.

The launch of BSN Labs comes a week after Big Switch, one of the pioneers of the SDN movement, introduced its Big Partner Program, which offers a range of incentives, training, enablement programs and starter kits to resellers and other channel partners to give them the tools they need to sell the technologies to their customers. With such offerings as the pre-configured test kits, both partners and end users can reduce the cost and risk of proofs-of-concept and more quickly move to production deployments of SDN, according to Big Switch officials.

Early in its life, Big Switch was a proponent of network overlays based on the OpenFlow protocol, in which a virtual network runs atop an underlying physical infrastructure and is connected by virtual links. The company's offerings were aimed at working within a strategy that was built around a controller, applications and the network.

In 2013, the company changed directions and moved away from the overlay concept to leveraging bare-metal switches to run both physical and virtual networks, creating an SDN environment that is open, flexible, easy to manage and less costly than those from competitors.

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) hold the promise of more agile, programmable and affordable networks by enabling the control plane and network tasks to run in software on lower-cost commodity hardware, rather than having to buy expensive proprietary switches that house the hardware vendor's own applications. Big Switch is offering SDN software that can run on anyone's white boxes, and also is teaming up with Dell to offer the Big Cloud Fabric on that OEM's open network switches.

The support for Dell switches—as well as for VMware's vSphere server virtualization product—was part of the 2.5 release of Big Cloud Fabric announced last month.

With BSN Labs, partners and end users can test out the products in an online environment. BSN Labs includes simulated Ethernet switch fabric topologies that are found in typical production deployments of Big Switch's offerings, officials said. Through the online portal, users can provision, manage and troubleshoot everything from network connectivity to policy rules through a single interface. The BSN Labs modules can be provisioned on-demand and include instructions for using the products.

The Labs offers three modules—for Big Cloud Fabric, Big Tap Monitoring Fabric and OpenStack integration with Big Cloud Fabric—and more modules are being developed, officials said.