HP brings emerging OpenFlow networking to switches

Summary:HP has updated the software on 16 of its switches to support OpenFlow, a software-defined networking technology that could improve networking operations and resiliency in enterprise networks

HP has released updates to let 16 of its switches support OpenFlow software-defined networking technology, which could eventually allow businesses to reconfigure their networks more easily and provide higher security.

The free updates, posted for download on Friday, apply to switches in HP's 3500, 5400 and 8200 series. The company hopes the move will spur developers and academic researchers into creating OpenFlow-based applications for its switches, to improve operations and resiliency. It also plans to extend OpenFlow to more products.

"We are planning by the end of the year to have this on the full HP FlexNetwork portfolio," Eugene Berger, a solution architect at HP Networking, told ZDNet UK.

OpenFlow is an emerging software-defined networking technology that moves high-level routing decisions to an external controller on a server. By doing this, it lets enterprises design networking layouts that are based around applications, rather than the other way around. OpenFlow backers argue it can make networks more resilient, as it makes it easier to rebuild a network and map out new routes if a hardware failure occurs.

"Hardware-based networking is essentially a set of rigid protocols which provide hop-by-hop networking connectivity," Eugene Berger, a solution architect at HP Networking, told ZDNet UK. "Software-based networking [like OpenFlow] is based on the application, and it makes decisions based on information it takes out of the packets."

OpenFlow was created by US researchers in 2008 as a way to let academics run experimental networks on their existing campus networking equipment. HP believes it can have a role in the enterprise, as OpenFlow-controlled networks can do things like offer service-level agreements (SLAs) for applications or provide higher levels of security for data traffic.

Several UK universities have downloaded HP's OpenFlow switch software and are experimenting with it, according to HP. For the time being, few OpenFlow-enabled applications are available, though HP is testing one internally named Virtual Service Network, Berger said.

Aside from HP, Cisco supports OpenFlow on its Nexus family of switches.

The technology could also be used for virtual machine mobility, high-security networks and next-generation IP-based mobile networks, according to the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). The ONF, which is backing OpenFlow, was founded in 2011 by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Yahoo and Deutsche Telekom, and counts HP among its members.

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Topics: Networking


Jack Clark has spent the past three years writing about the technical and economic principles that are driving the shift to cloud computing. He's visited data centers on two continents, quizzed senior engineers from Google, Intel and Facebook on the technologies they work on and read more technical papers than you care to name on topics f... Full Bio

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