Extreme Networks and Hewlett-Packard this week broadened their respective portfolios around software-defined networking and network-functions virtualization.
Extreme, which joined the vendor-driven SDN consortium OpenDaylight Project earlier this month, unveiled a software-defined networking (SDN) platform that includes a controller based on the OpenDaylight code and that supports the OpenFlow protocol, OpenStack orchestration technology and open APIs.
For its part, HP unveiled the 5400R z12 enterprise networking switch that also includes OpenFlow support and is aimed at making it easier for businesses that want to migrate their networking infrastructures to an SDN environment.
Officials with both companies said that enterprise customers are looking to make the move to SDN but are looking for solutions that will enable them to leverage their current networking investments, a key reason why both Extreme and HP are relying on such open protocols as OpenFlow. Extreme’s new platform will combined OpenDaylight’s controller technology with such company products as NetSight for network management and Purview for application analytics. The SDN platform also will interoperate with other vendors’ networking infrastructures, according to Markus Nispel, vice president of solutions architecture and innovation at Extreme.
“We believe our customers should be able to migrate to SDN without the need for expensive upgrades,” Nispel wrote in a post on the company blog. “By combining management, APIs and standards-based protocols and switching technology, we are accelerating the delivery of an open, standards-based SDN platform and solution ecosystem.”
Extreme officials said the company already is seeing success in SDN, which is designed to make networks more programmable, flexible, automated and cost-efficient by decoupling the control plane from the underlying hardware and putting it into software. Network-functions virtualization (NFV) also takes such network functions as firewalls, intrusion detection and load balancing and puts them into software. Extreme has shipped more than 10 million SDN-ready ports, and more than 40 ecosystem vendors have products that are compatible with the company’s SDN platform, officials said.
“This is an exciting time in the industry as development of open APIs will transform networks to enable the customization and efficiency that enterprises and service providers need,” Billy Moon, distinguished engineer at Extreme, said in a statement. “Extreme’s SDN Platform works to address customer needs by providing an open and standards-based model that takes advantage of our proven technology innovations, and the collaboration of the industry through the OpenDaylight project.”
OpenDaylight was launched last year in an effort led by such top-tier vendors as Cisco Systems and IBM. Since then, membership has grown to 39, with Extreme and several others—including Oracle—joining June 5. The group’s aim is to develop an open SDN platform that vendors can build upon. In February, OpenDaylight launched the initial software release of its platform, called Hydrogen. The next release, dubbed Helium, is due in the fall.
There was concern when the group first launched that vendors would use the project, which is run under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, to try to control the development of SDN technology. However, that hasn’t happened, according to Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner.
Extreme, HP Bolster SDN Product Lineups
“At this point [OpenDaylight] has become something legitimate and also has graduated from ‘science project’ to something that can be considered for niche use-cases,” Lerner wrote in a blog post. “It is not quite sunshine and daisies yet; [the consortium] still has a long ways to go. The code is in its first (developer) release, and consequently doesn’t have enterprise-grade stability without the backing of someone like an Extreme.”
Extreme also is teaming with US Ignite to run a competition designed to help build an ecosystem around the company’s platform. The Extreme SDN Innovation Challenge will award prizes to developers for applications that leverage the platform. The competition will run from September until May 2015.
HP’s 5400R z12 switches are the successor to the company’s 5400 zl family, adding OpenFlow support, leveraging such vendor products as Intelligent Management Center for a single place to manage wired and wireless networks and ProVision Fabric ASIC technology for deploying bandwidth-intensive applications with high throughput, and supporting integrated wireless LAN modules.
According to HP officials, the benefits include a 43 percent reduction in total cost of ownership, 58 percent lower latency than other competitive products and up to 2 terabits per second of switching fabric capacity, which is important for such applications as video conferencing. The new switches also come with HP’s consulting and support services.
“To keep pace with software developments and realize new business potential through cloud and mobile technologies, our customers are looking to modernize their networks,” Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager of servers and networking at HP, said in a statement, noting that the company is looking to help “customers … take full advantage of new business applications and migrate to SDN when they are ready, without requiring a forklift upgrade of their current infrastructure.”
HP’s 5406R zl2 and 5412R zl2 switches are available now starting at $2,419 and $4,599, respectively.