Enterasys Expands OneFabric Connect to Include SDN

Enterasys officials are focusing their efforts on the SDN applications and services rather than on the underlying architecture.

Enterasys is getting into the rapidly growing software-defined networking space, focusing less on the underlying architecture and more on the applications and services that will sit on top of the infrastructure.

Enterasys officials are introducing OneFabric Connect SDN, a product aimed at enabling partners to create the applications that businesses will use to leverage the SDN architecture, which promises greater flexibility, scalability and programmability of the network infrastructure.

The release is an expansion of the OneFabric Connect offering launched in February that enabled third-party developers to integrate applications to address such issues as enterprise mobility, easy onboarding of devices onto the network and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), according to company officials.

Now the OneFabric Connect has been expanded to include SDN applications through the introduction of a northbound open API that creates an open infrastructure that can easily and quickly integrate with third-party application vendors.

In addition, Enterasys' flow-based CoreFlow2 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) switch gives users deep visibility and control into the network, and the product offers centralized management and policy across the entire network fabric, according to company officials. It also includes programmable interfaces that will automate and orchestrate the configuration of the network fabric.

In an April 29 post on the company blog, Ali Kafel, director of product marketing at Enterasys, laid out the company's view of the highly competitive SDN space, and how Enterasys would focus more on the applications and less on the underlying architecture, including such technologies as the OpenFlow controller protocol.

"While there has been a lot of buzz about SDN in terms of OpenFlow and other architectural details, we at Enterasys believe new and differentiated services (through apps) running on top of such an architecture should be more emphasized," Kafel wrote. "Since OpenFlow is a southbound protocol between the controller and the data plane, Enterasys believes a northbound API should be given a higher priority at this point. This will enable the integration of new apps and services. A northbound API provides an open interface between the control/management and the apps. It is needed to enable new apps and services from third-party vendors, developers and users."

More vendors are focusing their attention on SDN, including established networking vendors such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks. At the same time, startups like Big Switch Networks, Plexxi and Embrane are vying for space, as are data center service providers such as Dell, Oracle and VMware, which are looking to add SDN and greater networking capabilities to their offerings.

In addition, a number of open-source projects deal with SDNs, including the OpenDaylight effort aimed at creating a common open SDN platform.

The SDN market is expected to grow quickly. IDC analysts in December 2012 said revenues in the space will grow from $360 million in 2013 to $3.7 billion by 2016.

Although much of the initial focus has been on the infrastructure and software-based controller, vendors increasingly are looking further up the stack, where the applications are. For example, Embrane CEO Dante Malagrino told eWEEK that it's the virtual services that run atop the SDN infrastructure—from load balancers to firewalls—that will provide the real value to SDNs. F5 Networks in February bought LineRate Systems to expand its SDN services capabilities.