This week's 25th edition of Interop may be showcasing the emerging OpenFlow standard as one element of the future of networking, but for NEC, the future is right here, right now. The company is announcing the general availability of its ProgrammableFlow PF5240 Switch with 48 ports of gigabit and 4 ports of ten gigabit per second connectivity.
The switch provides line rate multi-layer switching, maintaining up to 160,000 network 'flows' or units of OpenFlow communication. OpenFlow allows network applications and controllers running on external servers to define packet handing within each switching element in a network, allowing faculty and students from participating campuses to conduct experimentation and research on production networks.
Last November NEC announced its partnership with Stanford University, the developer of the OpenFlow protocol, Georgia Institute of Technology, Raytheon BBN Technologies, and other research institutions, to build OpenFlow networks around its new ProgrammableFlow switches.
"We were looking for a way back into the data market to complement our IT business," says Don Clark, director of business development, Information Technology Group (ITG), Enterprise Technologies Unit, NEC Corporation of America. "We saw the work being done at Stanford on OpenFlow and saw that as way to get in in a disruptive way."
In March, OpenFlow got another boost when the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which is focused on promoting a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN), was established by six of the largest network operators, including Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo. NEC was one of 17 technology companies joining ONF, and last week another nine companies signed up, including Nokia Siemens Networks. Clark says 11 vendors will be demonstrating OpenFlow support at Interop, while NEC will be highlighting IBM interoperability at its booth.