HP Offers SDN Solution for Clouds

Company officials also say there are more than 20 NFV proof-of-concept trials ongoing based on technology from HP and partners.

SDN Solution

Hewlett-Packard is broadening its network virtualization efforts with a solution designed to more easily deploy cloud networks and new members signing onto its network-functions virtualization program.

Among the announcements HP officials made Oct. 14 at the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress 2014 show included the unveiling of the company's Distributed Cloud Networking (DCN) solution, which service providers and large enterprises can leverage to automatically launch cloud networks across a distributed infrastructure, a task that used to take months but now takes minutes.

With the DCN, network administrators can control the distributed networking environment through a central point and over public, private or hybrid clouds, according to officials. The automated nature of the solution helps businesses save time and money and helps speed up time to market by removing the need for manual programming of the network, they said.

"Customers are looking for ways to upgrade their networks to better focus on building business and incorporating new technologies that adapt to rapidly changing demands," Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager for servers and networking at HP, said in a statement.

Both software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to make networks more automated, programmable and agile by removing the control plane and networking tasks—such as firewalls, load balancing and VPNs—from expensive underlying physical gear and putting them into software that can run on commodity systems.

Most data center solutions vendors, such as Cisco Systems and Dell, are rapidly building out their SDN and NFV capabilities, as are a growing number of smaller players. Dell, which earlier this year unveiled its Open Networking strategy, on Oct. 14 rolled out its NFV platform.

Analysts expect SDN to rapidly gain traction. The Dell'Oro Group said in a report Oct. 14 that the market this year will grow 65 percent over 2013 as architectures are put together and product deployments get underway.

"It is clear that, by 2020, data centers will look significantly different from today's," Alan Weckel, vice president at Dell'Oro, said in a statement.

HP's DCN solution includes the company's Virtualized Service Directory for managing users, compute and network resources, Distributed Services Controller, which works as the control plane for the network, and Distributed Virtual Routing and Switching, which is based on Open vSwitch and can detect changes in the compute environment and ensure the right level of network connectivity to meet the changing demands.

The DCN is available immediately, starting at $64,585 for a single instance.

Also at the show, HP officials announced that several tech companies have joined its OpenNFV Program, which the company introduced in February. HP is taking an aggressive approach to NFV, including building a business group around the technology. The OpenNFV Program offers a standards-based NFV reference architecture and HP products that telecommunications companies can use as a foundation for their architectures. Those companies in the partner program get use of NFV software development kits, APIs and resources to build and test applications that carriers can use.

Among the technology partners in the program are Brocade, Intel, Genband, Mellanox Technologies, SK Telecom and Wind River. There also is 6Wind, Spirent and the Israel Mobile and Media Association.

HP has more than 20 NFV proof-of-concept projects in the works around NFV, according to Werner Schaefer, vice president of NFV for HP.

"Our open architectural approach, in collaboration with Intel and our OpenNFV technology partners, is designed to ensure that carriers have a flexible, multivendor platform from which to quickly test and then launch new and innovative services," Schaefer said in a statement.