In my previous blog, I tried to pen down some of the underlying potentials of Software Defined Networking (SDN) to provide a more dynamic IT infrastructure. Of course, as I described SDN is not just about separating the control and data plane, but more importantly enabling a fully virtualized model for creating multi-tier virtual system, including all the network appliances used between those tiers. And also providing APIs that application can leverage, for example by using network monitoring feedback in workload placement.
On approach to making SDN an operational reality is called the OpenFlow standard. OpenFlow delivers a uniform, vendor-agnostic interface between control and data planes; any manufacturer of network assets (such as switches) can support it. And when they do, network control functions are no longer be provided by proprietary firmware on the switch, but instead are provided by an open source controller that can be available from different vendors.
Given an OpenFlow-enabled network, a logical map of the entire network to services or control applications can be created, and network resources like bandwidth can be virtualized (rather like the way computational resources such as processing power are virtualized in a cloud).
A second approach is to implement SDN at the edge of the physical network, through a Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) network that runs in virtual switches and gateways. This approach enables automating the creation of logical networks, chaining of services within and between those networks, and configuration of those services.
In both approaches above, because network resources are virtualized, they can be managed and allocated centrally, flexibly, fluidly — and always via software. Each approach empowers organizations to respond in a far more agile way to the services that demand instant agility, like social networking, mobile, big data, and others. The smart software-defined network based on these approaches can create more value with fewer resources, faster, all while reducing business risks like security breaches, vendor lock-in, and services that don't respond well to workload spikes.
IBM a Strong Performer in SDN and OpenFlow
IBM, a global leader and innovator of Software Defined Networking infrastructure, was the first vendor to adopt the OpenFlow 1.0 specification with advanced functionality in a 10 Gb Ethernet switch. In addition to its distinction as the first 10 Gb OpenFlow-enabled switch, the IBM RackSwitch G8264 was honored with the TMC 2010 Communications Solutions Product of the Year award. This award acknowledges innovative products that facilitate voice, data and video communications. We added OpenFlow support to our Flex EN-4093R, 10 GBase-T 8264-T, 40 Gb 8316 and 1 Gb 8052 switches. With a strong commitment to SDN, IBM continues to innovate in OpenFlow switch development.
IBM Programmable Network Controller (PNC) is an SDN controller for an OpenFlow network. IBM PNC provides network virtualization and network programmability of an OpenFlow network using an OpenFlow controller. It provides an OpenFlow-based network fabric with centralized control of network flows and unlimited virtual machine (VM) mobility—implemented in enterprise-class software.
IBM has led SDN revolution helping organizations to solve their data center networking challenges. Focused on the delivery of network services virtualization on complex, multi-vendor physical and virtual network infrastructures, IBM empowers agile and secure SDN deployment based on OpenFlow protocol and existing networks using virtual overlays based on IBM's Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) technology.
IBM Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments (SDN VE), a network overlay solution that supplies a complete implementation framework for network virtualization designed to support multivendor Data Center (DC) environments. SDN VE is a multi-hypervisor, server-centric solution comprising multiple components that overlay virtual networks onto any physical network that provides IP connectivity. The IBM SDN VE works with existing networks, simplify and automate network provisioning from days to minutes, increase server utilization, deploy applications more quickly thus reducing operational costs.
IBM has been a key contributor to the Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight project, which is a community-led and industry-supported open source framework that accelerate adoption, foster new innovation and create a more open and transparent approach to Software-Defined Networking. The project’s first code release is called Hydrogen and includes support for key networking protocols, including: OVSDB, OpenFlow 1.3.0, BGP and PCEP. Hydrogen is a true community effort, which leverages code from Cisco, ConteXtream, Ericsson, IBM, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), NEC, Pantheon, Plexxi, Radware and developers Brent Salisbury and Evan Zeller from the University of Kentucky. IBM contributed an open source version of our Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) technology. IBM also made significant contributions to Hydrogen’s OpenFlow 1.3 driver, performance enhancements and load balancer. We intend to integrate Hydrogen code into our SDN-VE controller in early 2014, which provides an Open Source base and adds the protocols mentioned above.
IBM Fellow & System Networking CTO