Software-defined network supplier Big Switch launches free online test environment

Big Switch Networks launches online development and test environment to show how to set up and run a software-defined network (SDN)

Software-defined networking (SDN) startup Big Switch Networks has unveiled an online laboratory – dubbed BSN Labs – for prospective customers to test drive its SDN products, including Big Cloud Fabric and Big Tap Monitoring Fabric.

Big Cloud Fabric is a bare-metal SDN fabric that Big Switch claims is more agile, simple and scalable that traditional, legacy box-by-box networking. It supports VMware vSphere server virtualisation to bring the benefits of bare-metal SDN to virtual workloads, as well as Dell Open Network Switches.

Big Tap Monitoring Fabric is a 1G, 10G or 40G network visibility fabric that uses bare-metal Ethernet or Dell Open Network switches, to allow users to monitor their network traffic at substantially reduced costs.

Its on-demand portal will enable instant access to both Big Switch products through a cloud-hosted, hands-on test and demonstration environment.

“Big Switch Labs gives architects instant access to the most advanced SDN products available today, and the basic training modules take less than an hour to complete,” said Kyle Forster, founder of Big Switch Networks. “The feedback from beta users has been overwhelmingly positive.”

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Testing SDN in your own lab

The supplier claimed this would give network architects and administrators an opportunity to experience its products, and conduct deep-dive analysis of SDN systems.

The laboratory simulates Ethernet switch fabric topologies – which are typically used in production deployments of Big Switch’s products – to let users provide, manage and troubleshoot network connectivity and policy rules from a centralised controller interface – either GUI or CLI.

The controller software will be made available to let users test SDN in their own labs or deployments.The three initial modules will cover the concepts behind Big Cloud Fabric’s architecture and application-centric design, the capabilities of Big Tap Monitoring Fabric and the integration of Big Cloud Fabric with OpenStack.

Customers will be able to explore their options through a number of starter kits Big Switch has made available, covering small lab proof of concepts through to two-rack production-ready deployments.

New Zealand-based network consultant Lindsay Hill, who has been testing the environment, commented: “The lab guide walks you through some common scenarios, but you're free to do whatever you like in a sandboxed environment.

“Because the environment includes simulated endpoints, you're able to quickly test the effect of configuration changes. Actually configuring a system yourself really brings home the capabilities, and makes you start questioning the traditional methods of configuring networks.”

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