Brocade announced plans to support OpenFlow 1.3 across nearly all of its switches and routers. The Brocade OpenFlow support includes all of its data center fabric products, campus switches and enterprise routers.
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"The hope is that OpenFlow 1.3 is robust enough to get the protocol out of experimental networks and test-and-dev environments and into more real-world, commercial deployments," said Brad Casemore, research director for Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "Every iteration of OpenFlow is certainly getting richer, and it's growing beyond its scientific roots. It's getting more and more enterprise-class functionality."
OpenFlow 1.3 has several features required by enterprises, he said. These features include quality of service, Q-in-Q, Group Tables, active-standby controllers and IPv6.
Brocade OpenFlow support originally was confined to version 1.0 on the MLXe, the company's latest generation of the core enterprise router. Now, Brocade is going to offer OpenFlow 1.3 support on the MLXe and every router it has shipped since 2006, according to Daniel Williams, Brocade's director of product marketing for data center switching and routing. The OpenFlow 1.3 support will be available through free software upgrade on legacy, end-of-life MLX and XMR routers, as well as the CES and CER routers.
"Moving to SDN, especially OpenFlow, doesn't require a forklift upgrade, especially with Brocade. We're leveraging the programmable packet-processing capability that [router] architecture is built on to enable OpenFlow in [those products]," Williams said.
Brocade will expand the OpenFlow 1.3 support to its ICX campus switches and its VDX data center fabric switches too. The company will demo a variety of these products with OpenFlow 1.3 at the Open Networks Summit this week in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Brocade has been very aggressive [with OpenFlow support]," Casemore said. HP is the only other large networking vendor to support OpenFlow on such a broad number of its switches and routers, he said.
Brocade OpenFlow support is available in two hybrid modes
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Brocade also continues to trumpet its ability to run its OpenFlow-enabled products in hybrid mode, allowing network engineers to support OpenFlow and traditional network protocols simultaneously.
"Down to a port level, we can simultaneously support both traditional forwarding capabilities and OpenFlow-based SDN capabilities," Williams said. "We can do it in two ways. We can do it in a ships-in-the-night mode, where you are using the same physical infrastructure to do both, but they do not inter-work. Or customers can deploy that in a way that the OpenFlow can go in and select specific flows and change the forwarding behavior from what the traditional forwarding tables would have done."
"They are doing some interesting things with their own silicon, specifically hybrid mode," Casemore said. "It makes a lot of sense for people who are slow to adopt OpenFlow. This allows them to use more conventional switching until they are ready, whether customers are ready to make a wholesale move to OpenFlow now or want some future insurance policy for later."
Brocade's routers will get OpenFlow 1.3 support in June. ICX and VDX switches have will get OpenFlow software support later in the year.