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HP Adds OpenFlow Support Throughout Networking Line

At Interop 2012, HP shows OpenFlow-enabled networking platforms, teams with F5 Networks to automate virtualization of networks and application deployment.

Interop 2012 Product Preview
Interop 2012 Product Preview
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
HP said Tuesday that networks must become capable of serving specific applications with the right amount of resources by implementing the OpenFlow networking protocol and other policy-driven, flexible network management. The company revealed "16 OpenFlow-enabled" networking platforms and announced plans to extend OpenFlow support throughout its networking product line.

OpenFlow-supporting equipment lends itself to software-defined networks, and such networks are needed to carry out the gains made through virtualized servers and storage, HP's head of networking Bethany Mayer said in an advance presentation to the announcement.

Each network must become "multi-tenant," or capable of supporting the needs of different applications, unlike the fixed and inflexible networks built with the traditional spanning tree protocol. In software defined networks, the network as a whole can be subdivided into logical units that independently combine the features needed to support different applications. One app might need bandwidth for sustained throughput; another might need the ability to scale-out with additional switches and routers when demand picks up. With OpenFlow, the network can function more flexibly, something like the virtualized servers in Amazon's EC2 cloud.

"The cloud is changing networking dramatically. The things that were done in past that were acceptable, that's all going away. You can't have the rigidity that we did. Today it still takes three months to [manually] configure the network. We can't do that at all," said Bethany Mayer, senior VP and general manager of HP Networking.

[ Want to learn more about OpenFlow networking? See How Open Flow Changes Networking. ]

Several startups have focused on OpenFlow, such as BigSwitch Networks and Nicira, both of whom presented at the first Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara April 16-18. But HP is one of the first major network vendors to become an early implementer.

At a press conference at Interop in Las Vegas Monday, Mayer was asked if "OpenFlow-enabled" was the same thing as having a complete tool set to help in the design, building, and managing of OpenFlow networks. Mayer conceded HP wasn't there yet. But it was working on a more complete tool set with F5 Networks and other third parties. F5 is an application orchestration specialist with capabilities in supplying application acceleration, security, and high availability on the network. With F5, HP is going to be early to market with the ability to orchestrate OpenFlow-based networking for specific applications.

HP plans to present that capability through a single pane of glass provided by the Intelligent Management Center, a new product that includes 11 specific modules, including Traffic Analyzer, Quality of Service and Wireless Services modules.

Mayer said software defined networking uses automated procedures and policy driven decision-making to align network equipment with application needs. Instead of the 100,000 application settings and 250,000 command line interface entries needed to get a major application running, these adjustments should be done through preferences and policies activated from a network control console. A major cause of application down time is when an error is made in one of these manual steps, she said.

HP Virtual Application Networks, an existing product for virtualizing the network, has been expanded to include templates that can be used to characterize an application's networking requirements and then use automated policies to configure the network based on those requirements.

HP and F5 have also collaborated on a new product, HP BYOD solution, for bringing on board a variety of end user devices, provision and authenticate them, and monitor their use.

Mayer and Dreamworks Animation head of global operations Derek Chan are delivering a joint keynote on Virtual Application Networks at Interop on Wednesday.

The pay-as-you go nature of the cloud makes ROI calculation seem easy. It’s not. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Calculations InformationWeek supplement: Why infrastructure-as-a-service is a bad deal. (Free registration required.)

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