Big Switch Networks enters SDN race

Silicon Valley start-up Big Switch Networks debuts its first software defined networking (SDN) products

Big Switch Networks today unveiled its first software defined networking (SDN) products.

Founded in 2010 in Palo Alto, the company has been developing its systems for two and a half years, beta testing them with companies such as Goldman Sachs before announcing general availability.

The technologies are based around the open-source SDN project OpenFlow, which enables software to run on numerous types of hardware, rather than being tied down to proprietary equipment from one supplier.

The centre of the suite is the Big Network Controller, which abstracts the network from the hardware. The company claims it enables a company to control the entire network from a single console. It uses the open source Floodlight controller code, which is available under an Apache 2.0 licence.

Big Virtual Switch uses existing servers and their virtual machines by virtualising the network. This way it can stop the network always sending data down one path to one particular server as a tradition and provide systems in a more flexible way, depending on need.

The final product of the range is Big Tap, which is an application designed for monitoring the network, claiming to give full visibility to network administrators and allowing them to make decisions to cut costs and scale where needed.

Big Switch Networks has gained the backing of significant networking players straight from launch, with its list of users and contributors including Brocade, Juniper Networks and A10 networks to name a few, as well as large IT suppliers such as Dell and Microsoft.

However, the glaring omission from the list is Cisco which, although it often talks about OpenFlow, seems keen to sell its own SDN software for its own hardware.  

“Cisco talk about OpenFlow but the question is when are they going to stop talking and start taking action?” said Andrew Harding, senior director of product marketing for Big Switch Networks, in an interview with Computer Weekly.

“They use the same words that mainframe suppliers said when I was in junior high but they have to accept the days of proprietary stacks are limited.”

All three products will be available from today with the Big Network Controller priced from around $1,700 per month, the Big Virtual Switch from around $4,200 per month and Big Tap from $500 per month.  

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