HP Advances to OpenFlow 1.3 SDN with FlexFabric

HP debuts new SDN-enabled core switching platform.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 1, 2013
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One of the first major networking vendors to support OpenFlow on its switches, HP is now extending that support with FlexFabric technologies that enable the new world of Software Defined Networking.

HP is positioning its new FlexFabric 12900 platform as the industry's first OpenFlow-enabled core HP FlexFabric 12916switching platform. A big box 23 RU switch with up to 20.5 Tbps of switching capacity, the 12916 supports 768 x 10 GbE ports. The 12910 switch is a 21 RU platform with up to 12.8 Tbps of switching capacity and support for 480 x 10 GbE ports.

As a core switching platform, the FlexFabric 12900 enters a market already occupied by the Cisco Nexus 6000 and the Juniper EX 8200.

While the FlexFabric 12900 represents the new big iron in the HP networking portfolio, HP is also rolling out new switching technology with no iron in it whatsoever. The FlexFabric VirtualSwitch 5900v will enter competition with the Cisco Nexus1000v, which has been in the market since 2008. The Linux operating system, which powers many servers today, now also includes a native Open vSwitch.

OpenFlow 1.3

Kash Shaikh, senior director of product and technical marketing at HP Networking, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that HP's key differentiator is that its SDN technology is standards-based. The standard is OpenFlow, and for the new 12900 series switches in particular, HP will support the OpenFlow 1.3.x standard.

OpenFlow 1.3 was officially announced in May of 2012, though the majority of OpenFlow-enabled switches in the market today still only support OpenFlow 1.0. The 1.3 specification includes more options for network control.

SDN Manager

HP is also very focussed on controlling SDN.

In February of this year, the vendor formally unveiled its SDN controller, the Virtual Application Network SDN Controller. The controller enables a new generation of network-aware applications.

HP is now announcing a new SDN Manager, intended to help simplify the management of SDN. The SDN Manager is a module that will plug into HP's Intelligent Management Center (IMC) software platform for network management. HP first introduced IMC to its networking portfolio in 2011.

Shaikh explained that with the SDN Manager, OpenFlow-enabled switches can be managed directly, without the need to drop to the command line interface. Individual OpenFlow SDN Controllers can also be managed by the SDN Manager.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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