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Ixia Ensures OpenFlow Hardware No Longer Untestable

Software defined networking was all the buzz at Interop this year, and although NEC's ProgrammableFlow Controller won Best of Show, OpenFlow was still more the stuff of slideware, not hardware. Ixia, an established provider of network test products, is out to rectify that shortcoming by launching the first commercial OpenFlow test product.

At Interop, Ixia announced that its IxNetwork and IxANVL test applications now support OpenFlow protocol emulation that's fully integrated with other network protocols and provides a suite of OpenFlow compliance tests. Ixia has long been known as a premier provider of network test hardware and software and now hopes to support development of a new OpenFlow-based equipment ecosystem. IxNetwork is an application for network topology testing and traffic analysis, while IxANVL is an automated validation library that developers and manufactures use to ensure protocol compliance and interoperability.

In this interview on the Interop show floor, Michael Haugh, senior product manager, runs down the key capabilities of Ixia's software and explains how equipment vendors, service providers, and buyers can use the hardware-based traffic-generation capabilities of IxNetwork to emulate an OpenFlow controller, modify flow tables, and test OpenFlow-based traffic forwarding. As Haugh explains, Ixia's initial offering supports OpenFlow v1.0 and includes test cases to certify compliance with the Open Networking Foundation's (ONF) OF-Test 1.0 specification, currently under development.

Haugh walks through Ixia's graphical interface, shows a typical test network topology, and describes some of the parameters the software can measure. For example, the IxNetwork traffic generator, which supports all current Ethernet standards, can dynamically change the frame rate and size, while taking precise measurements of latency, jitter, packet loss, and packet sequence order.

Unlike some of those hyping OpenFlow, Ixia is putting its products under the discerning eyes of potential customers. In April, it hosted an ONF interoperability event, and Haugh chairs the ONF's Testing and Interoperability Working Group. With Arista, Brocade, IBM, and NEC among those already showing OpenFlow-compatible switches, the ranks of vendors seeking test and verification products like Ixia's are bound to grow. Ixia may be first to the party, but it certainly won't be alone for long.

Watch the video interview: