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NEC Releases Uber SDN Controller

NEC unveiled an updated version of its software-defined networking suite with a new product that provides datacenter interconnect capabilities for OpenFlow-based networks.

The Unified Network Coordinator can connect multiple remote NEC Programmable Flow controllers and provide centralized management within and across datacenters. NEC claims a significant boost in scalability with UNC, with each UNC able to control up to 10 controllers, 2,000 switches, 100,000 VLANs and 10 million flows.

"I think of it as a controller of controllers," Rohit Mehra, VP of infrastructure at IDC, said in a interview.

Datacenter interconnects are becoming more important to large enterprises and cloud providers as they build multiple data centers for redundancy and disaster recovery purposes, he said. A recent IDC survey of 200 enterprises that operate two or more datacenters revealed that datacenter interconnects are a priority for enterprise IT managers.

"The whole question around redundancy and active-active kind of capabilities -- that's why the controller of controllers becomes very important," Mehra said. "Should there be a failure at any of my sites or the interconnect of one of my sites, the system will automatically recover in short order."

By taking the OpenFlow approach, UNC streamlines what has been a complex and proprietary architecture with traditional datacenter interconnect products, according to NEC, which released the first commercially available OpenFlow-based controller in 2011.

[Get advice on how to begin migrating to software-defined networking in "Making The SDN Transition: First Steps."]

In addition to disaster recovery and business continuity requirements, bandwidth demands and the need to access data from multiple locations also are driving demand for better datacenter interconnection, the company said.

Mehra said UNC is relevant for redundancy both within datacenters and between them. "One of those being a missing link will not be good for the enterprise or cloud provider," he said.

The latest version of NEC's ProgrammableFlow also features integration of the northbound API with Microsoft System Center, a management tool for on-premise and Windows Azure environments.

ProgrammableFlow version 5.1 and the UNC are scheduled to become generally available in April. UNC costs $29,500.

NEC is demonstrating its updated SDN suite and the UNC this week at the Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, Calif.