NEC Offers SDN Pay-as-You-Grow Pricing Model

The new ProgrammableFlow starter kit is part of the enhancements made in the latest version of NEC's SDN portfolio.


NEC is pushing to make it easier for businesses to embrace software-defined networking.

Company officials on Oct. 13 announced that, as part of the launch of Version 6 of NEC's ProgrammableFlow SDN Networking Suite, the company is offering a new pricing model for the portfolio's SDN controller that is based on capacity and starts at $3,000.

The lower cost and pay-as-you-grow pricing model will enable more organizations to try out SDN and see how it can enhance their data center environments, according to Don Clark, director of business development at NEC Corp. of America.

"The new pricing enables customers to deploy networks of any size to seize the operational and performance benefits of Open Networking," Clark said in a statement. "We are confident that once our customers experience the benefits of SDN, they will make it a part of their IT infrastructure."

Under the new pricing model, businesses can deploy SDN technology that is based on their needs and can scale as they grow, NEC officials said. The company is rolling out a ProgrammableFlow SDN Starter Pack that starts at $3,000. It includes all the features of the ProgrammableFlow Controller software but is aimed at smaller deployments and can be used in a variety of environments, from remote offices to departments to labs.

In addition to the new SDN starter kit, NEC is introducing a range of other capabilities in Version 6 aimed at campus deployments. Networking professionals will be able to build larger and more reliable wide-area Ethernet fabrics that cover campus and metro areas. The fabric and other network virtualization capabilities mean that converged network fabrics can be deployed across remote sites, enabling greater control of switches at multiple sites and reducing the need for physical networking gear, officials said.

ProgrammableFlow Version 6 is available immediately as a free download.

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) separate the network control plane and networking tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls and intrusion prevention—from the underlying physical infrastructure and put them into software, which can run atop less-expensive and simpler commodity switches and servers. The goal is to create networks that are more programmable, automated, agile and cost-efficient at a time when trends in the industry—such as mobile computing, social networking, big data and the cloud—are putting increasing pressure on networks to be more adaptable and flexible.

Established players like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, VMware and Juniper Networks are rapidly building out their network virtualization capabilities, while a growing number of startups also are working to gain traction in the rapidly expanding and highly competitive market.

Infonetics Research analysts in a report in September said that data center and enterprise SDN revenue between 2012 and 2013 grew 192 percent. The analysts said vendors are continuing to seed the market with SDN-capable Ethernet switches, and the leaders in the SDN space will become more clear over the next two years as customers move from the lab trials that are under way now to production deployments.

They also noted the growing use of bare-metal switches—particularly among major cloud service providers like Google and Amazon—adding that such switches will account for 31 percent of all SDN-capable switch revenue by 2018. The adoption of SDN network virtualization overlays will go mainstream that year as well, Infonetics said.

"There is no longer any question about software-defined networking (SDN) playing a role in data center and enterprise networks," Cliff Grossner, directing analyst for data center, cloud and SDN at Infonetics, said in a statement. "The early SDN explorers—NEC in Japan and pure-play SDN startups in North America—were joined in 2013 by the majority of traditional switch vendors and server virtualization vendors offering a wide selection of SDN products."