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10 Software-Defined Networking Architectures

  • Big Switch Networks Open SDN

    Big Switch Networks' Open SDN platform offers an OpenFlow switch fabric that can run on bare metal switches and hypervisor virtual switches, and enables a wide variety of SDN network applications, including data center network virtualization and network monitoring. The Open SDN platform uses industry standard protocols, open APIs, and open source networking infrastructure.

    Big Switch Networks Open SDN suite is built around the Big Network Controller, which is a network application platform that enables a broad range of application support, including data center network virtualization (Big Virtual Switch) and network monitoring (Big Tap).

  • Cisco eXtensible Network Controller (XNC)

    Cisco XNC is a Java OSGI-based application built to support the scalability, extensibility and modularity required for rapidly evolving enterprise IT architectures. It is the industry's first controller that supports multiple protocols, both OpenFlow and Cisco onePK for device communication. The Service Abstraction Layer (SAL) in the XNC architecture enables modular device support through either OpenFlow or Cisco onePK by abstracting the protocols from applications that run on the controller. As an extensible platform, other southbound protocol plugins could be added as the technology evolves. On the northbound, XNC provides Java OSGI and REST API support for business applications to interact. Using Java, OSGI application developers could easily extend or develop applications that will run on the controller itself. REST API can be used by business applications that are outside the controller, and for those XNC supports both secure and non-secure communication mechanism.

    Cisco's SDN strategy should become clearer Nov. 6, when the company reportedly plans to unveil the products from its Insieme Networks venture.


    IBM Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments creates a virtual network for virtual machines. This virtual network is decoupled and isolated from the physical network much like a virtual machine is decoupled and isolated from its host server hardware.

    IBM touts several advantages with this approach:

    • Virtual networks can be created without any changes to the existing network.
    • Since the physical network does not have to be changed, it can be wired once.
    • Provisioning and administration can be simplified and automated.
    • IP and MAC addresses can be reused, permitting logical separation of networks for multi-tenancy.

  • Midokura MidoNet

    Midokura's MidoNet is a distributed, decentralized network virtualization product that is purpose-built for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds, such as OpenStack and CloudStack. MidoNet allows end users to build complex and arbitrary network topologies in their cloud environments without requiring more than IP connectivity from the physical network. MidoNet offers a virtual device approach, which includes devices such as switches, routers, firewalls, and load balancers and the ability to connect these devices in an arbitrary way. L2 and L3 layer isolation is also provided for the security-minded user. MidoNet design is distributed and decentralized, so it can scale horizontally as more capacity is needed.

  • Juniper Networks Contrail

    Juniper Networks Contrail is a virtual overlay system for network virtualization and intelligence. Through RESTful APIs, Contrail works with CloudStack and OpenStack architectures to orchestrate the provisioning of compute, storage and network resources. Contrail's SDN controller virtualizes the network to enable automation and orchestration of hybrid cloud environments, elastic service chaining of network and security services, and a "big data for infrastructure" (BDI) analytics engine providing a real-time view of the entire network. Contrail is an open standards-based IP system that natively enables NaaS across heterogeneous and federated cloud networks.

  • NEC ProgrammableFlow Networking Suite

    NEC ProgrammableFlow Networking Suite is an OpenFlow-based SDN system designed to provide better utilization of IT assets, enable network-wide virtualization and allow enterprises to deploy, control and monitor multi-tenant network infrastructure. NEC's ProgrammableFlow Controller is built on OpenFlow 1.0, with OpenFlow 1.3 on the roadmap, and sports a list of compatible software ranging from DoS attack mitigation to QoS to VRRP. NEC has committed code to the open source Open Daylight program and demonstrated interoperability at Interop, PlugFest and ONS with Arista, Brocade, Centec, Dell, Extreme and IBM gear.

  • Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (Alcatel)

    Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) is a network overlay system for software-defined networking. VSP makes the network as responsive as cloud applications and users need it to be, established in a policy-driven manner throughout and across data centers. It facilitates hybrid cloud services, as well as the creation and scaling of distributed clouds using layer 3 routing protocols to extend application zones across multiple centers. As a result, VSP is designed to simplify service delivery and dynamically address changing business requirements with flexible and adaptive services.

  • Plexxi

    Plexxi's Affinity-based scale-out networking products build and manage network capacity and functionality directly from data center resident workloads. These products use a top-down approach that starts with application configuration and ends in the connectivity needed to achieve those needs, rather than the other way around. Unlike other Ethernet products, Plexxi has replaced traditional electronics networking with optics, traditionally used in telecom systems. This is intended to boost speed but also reduce costs and power draw. Plexxi's technology builds an abstract and programmable layer on top of the physical networking gear. The Plexxi Switch, which is used with the Plexxi Control software, is designed to carry traffic between racks of servers as fast as possible.

  • Pica8

    Pica8 takes an open-source approach to the controller layer, by leveraging more than seven controller initiatives, including Ryu, Floodlight and NOX, and selecting a controller that best matches the customer's application needs.

    Pica8's network operating system, PicOS, provides this functionality on top of commodity white-box bare metal switches. PicOS has OpenFlow 1.3 support, through Open vSwitch (OVS) v1.9 integration. OVS runs as a process within PicOS, and provides the OpenFlow interface for external programmability. It also exposes Debian Linux, so enterprises can use their existing tools for programming and optimizing Pica8 open switches to support their network.

  • VMware NSX

    The VMware NSX network virtualization platform provides a programmatic and mobile virtual network, deployed on top of any general purpose IP network hardware. The VMware NSX platform combines Nicira NVP and VMware vCloud Network and Security (vCNS) into one platform. VMware NSX exposes a suite of simplified virtual networking elements and services including virtual switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPN, QoS, monitoring, and security; arranged in any topology with isolation and multi-tenancy through programmable APIs -- deployed on top of any physical IP network fabric, resident with any compute hypervisor, connecting to any external network, and consumed by any cloud management platform (e.g. vCloud, OpenStack, CloudStack). NSX is scheduled to become available in the fourth quarter of this year.