Juniper Networks is jumping on the OpenFlow bandwagon, putting the OpenFlow source code in the Junos software development kit (SDK). The company says that the OpenFlow application works within the SDK to change the control plane to create more dynamic network programmability for custom applications that run on top of the Junos operating system. "The new levels of programmability enabled by OpenFlow simplify control of network devices and allow more rapid innovation of intelligent applications and solutions across the entire network infrastructure."
A founding member of the Open Networking Foundation, Juniper has more than 500 organizations in the SDK developer community. The company says its priority is making the networking infrastructure more efficient and effective for customers, and OpenFlow is an important step on the path to greater programmability.
Juniper believes that the next frontier in networking will be bridging the gap between the application and network worlds. Today, the two exist as silos, often separated by organizational boundaries, separate priorities and even different budgets. The company says that network programmability--the idea that information can be shared bi-directionally between the application and the network--will be key to unlocking the power of each and, to that end, OpenFlow is a critical component.
At minimum, the company expects its developers to use the OpenFlow application as an example. In this capacity it is a great learning tool. Beyond that, Juniper says, this OpenFlow application is a working OpenFlow client. It has demonstrated several use cases and expects that there are countless others. Using the application as-is to explore use cases will help highlight where the OpenFlow standard is sufficient and where it needs work.
Additionally, the company says, there are customers and partners who have very strong developer roots. For these customers, the source code for the OpenFlow application is really a starting point. Take it, extend it, bend it, shape it, says Juniper.
The announcement of OpenFlow has some people in networking optimistic that we are about to see a significant change in innovation and progress on network management, writes Network Computing contributor Greg Ferro. OpenFlow is a nascent networking specification that has three key elements: a software controller, the OpenFlow protocol and a client on the network device. It’s important to understand that all three elements combine to create a single coherent solution.
According to a prepared statement provided by Juniper from Glen Hunt, principal analyst at Current Analysis, the implementation of OpenFlow enables a consistent management policy across a large number of devices, which can reduce processing requirements and simplify management while delivering the expected application performance: "Juniper is helping to drive this level of programmability, which will be required to support the steep ramp in network-aware application development." He says by making OpenFlow available in its SDK, Juniper is in a leadership position to help the development community and service providers leverage network assets and intelligence to help deliver differentiated services.
Last week, a Cisco fellow said that software-defined networking, an emerging technology that moves intelligence out of switches and routers to a software controller and which is evolving in concert with the development of the OpenFlow networking standard, is seen as a potential threat to networking vendors, particularly market leader Cisco Systems. According to sister publication InformationWeek, OpenFlow-based networking would enable enterprises to replace high-end switches with lower-cost, commodity switches, which could be 70% cheaper than high-end switches such as Cisco’s.
In August, HP revealed work it is doing on OpenFlow networking at HP Labs. Like Juniper, a member of the Open Network Foundation, HP says networks should be easier to manage, saying part of the reason it is this hard is that there hasn’t been enough competition to push the providers to provide better solutions.
See more on this topic by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports Strategy: Inside OpenFlow (subscription required).