OpenFlow is a new network control architecture that promises to
- provide service agility by opening and migrating full control functions to the operator
- improve scale and performance
- simplify network operations
- enable network sharing through virtualization of the network and physical resources
OpenFlow is being standardized by the Open Networking Foundation, of which Metaswitch Networks is a member.
The OpenFlow protocol, which is used to split the control plane from the data plane, has been receiving a lot of industry attention, and is an approach to Software Defined Networking (SDN). An alternative approach to SDN is PCE-based SDN which is fully supported by Metaswitch with DC-PCE.
OpenFlow provides control of a remote data plane, including
- System configuration
- Capability negotiation
- FlB & MPLS programming
- Status reporting and alarms
- Packet tunnelling to/from the control plane
OpenFlow splits the traditional router or switch. As illustrated in the following before and after diagram, the router/switch becomes a Data Plane-only switch and the Control Plane moves to OpenFlow Controller, which may be hosted on standard servers.
This design enables the OpenFlow Controller to take advantage of the scalability and cost advantage of cloud-based hosting, and uses standard interfaces to enable cross-vendor solutions.
OpenFlow is currently seeing most traction for routing in highly-scaled data centers, as traditional routing protocols do not scale well in these environments. There is also great interest for handling shared network resources, as OpenFlow enables the sharing of physical resources through slicing and virtualization.
Solutions from Metaswitch's Network Technologies are architected with all the key ingredients that are required by OpenFlow and Software Defined Networking ecosystems. In particular, we deliver on modularity, distribution, portability, scale, virtualization and high availability in virtually all of our control plane products.
With over 30 years experience in building innovative networking solutions, Metaswitch has all the tools and expertise required to make the concept of OpenFlow a reality. For more information on our SDN plans, see our information on PCE and SDN. For information on our OpenFlow plans, please contact us.