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Big Switch Pries Open Software Defined Networking

SDN, the industry’s latest buzzword, is reckoned to be the biggest thing in networking in the last 20 years

There’s a new wannabe disruptive initiative abroad in networking land that’s promising to run roughshod over laggards and standoffish old stalwarts like Cisco that may find it threatening.

The push is gathering behind a deceptively named two-year-old start-up called Big Switch Networks and its notion of software-defined networking (SDN).

SDN is the industry’s latest buzzword defined in the last five or six years at Stanford University’s Clean Slate Lab by people like Big Switch co- founder and CEO Guido Appenzeller, who reckons it’s the biggest thing in networking in the last 20 years.

The idea is to make networking gear universally programmable through the so-called OpenFlow protocol so the stuff can do tricks it’s never done before and make everybody’s life more pleasant. (Well, almost everybody.)

Big Switch – which just to be clear isn’t in the hardware business – has already started shipping its open SDN product suite to let users to create new network applications not possible with non-programmable traditional networks.

In fact, it claims it’s already deployed the widgetry in some of the largest and most innovative production networks.

Launched officially last month, it says it waited to come out now with its first generally available production release so it couldn’t be accused of promoting vaporware or, for that matter, re-labeling old legacy stuff like a lot of its competition has been doing.

Of course, since the networks it’s already on reportedly belong to big- time financial services companies and large high-techs – your typical early adopters – their names are being tightly guarded. However, it appears that two of them at least are Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments since they are both backing the ecosystem that has fallen in line behind Big Switch, its open APIs, open standards and platform-independence.

In fact Goldman has put money in Big Switch.

Big Switch claims the ecosystem rallying to its banner represents the largest ecosystem of physical and hypervisor switch, security, cloud orchestration and application partners and includes A10 Networks, Arista Networks, Broadcom, Brocade, Canonical, Cariden, Citrix, Cloudscaling, Coraid, Dell, Endace, Extreme Networks, F5, Fortinet, Gigamon, Infoblox, Juniper Networks, Mellanox, Microsoft, Mirantis, Nebula, Piston Cloud, Palo Alto Networks, Radware, StackOps, ThreatSTOP, and vArmour.

Other big familiar names are reportedly teetering on the brink.

Big Switch’s main competitor Nicira, bought for $1.26 billion by VMware this summer, isn’t on its list. Its OpenFlow architecture isn’t supposed to be as broad as Big Switch’s hybrid approach, which is more second generation.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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