Huawei Rolls Out Carrier-Grade SDN Controller

Company officials say the SNC platform will make it easier for carriers to deploy and manage their SDN environments.

Huawei Technologies, which in August rolled out new switches designed to fit into software-defined networking environments, is now unveiling an SDN controller aimed at helping carriers deploy and manage their software-defined infrastructures.

At the Broadband World Forum 2013 in Amsterdam, Huawei officials launched its SNC SDN controller, a unified software platform that Huawei officials said will give carriers centralized control over their SDN environments for such jobs as managing cloud data networks, quality-of-service policies, and path optimization, which will enable customers to improve network resource utilization.

The SNC offering is a significant step in the push to commercialize SDN, according to Gai Gang, president of Huawei's carrier IP product line.

"Based on Huawei’s rich experience and constant innovation in SDN technologies, the SNC will assist carriers in the quick and efficient deployment of SDN networks, to leverage the benefits of SDN," Gang said in a statement.

Huawei, like most other networking vendors—from established players like Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard to startups like Big Switch Networks and Plexxi—has been building out its SDN capabilities over the past several years. In 2011, the company demonstrated what officials called Huawei's Open Scalable Service Platform, which looked to leverage the OpenFlow open SDN protocol and push innovation on both the control and data planes.

In August, Huawei officials unveiled the S12700 series of switches, which target campus networks and are designed to address such data center trends as SDN, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and big data. The switches are made to be easily programmable and upgradable, foundational capabilities for SDN, which is all about making networks more flexible, scalable, programmable and cost-effective by taking network intelligence from complex and expensive hardware and putting it into software-based controllers.

Huawei's SNC offers separate forwarding and control planes and centralized network control, and is open and easily scalable. It also simplifies network operations and maintenance via a unique multidimensional path calculation algorithm and southbound interfaces, which can centrally virtualize and optimize network resources, according to company officials.

SNC also comes with Huawei's Open Programmable System, which supports a range of programming languages, including Python, C and Java, and open interfaces, such as RESTful. This open environment will make it easier for carriers to speed up networking innovations, officials said.

The SNC platform also supports legacy southbound interfaces and networks, which Huawei officials said will simplify the process carriers must undergo to migrate their current networks to an SDN environment.

Huawei is making an aggressive push into the U.S. enterprise networking market, challenging the likes of Cisco (which owns more than 60 percent of the market), HP and Juniper Networks. Huawei is a strong player in China and Europe, but wants to make inroads into the United States. The company in 2011 established Huawei Enterprise USA, which offers not only networking gear, but also servers, storage systems, software and mobile devices.

Huawei and fellow Chinese-based vendor ZTE have had trouble getting traction in the U.S. networking market after lawmakers raised concerns last year about whether the companies—with alleged close ties to the Chinese government—posed a national security risk if their networking gear was used widely in the United States.

In a whitepaper released Oct. 18, Huawei officials said the company is ingraining cyber-security into its products and again denied that it had close ties with the Chinese government or that it had spied for the country.