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Brocade is also developing technology to extend OpenFlow beyond the data center and across a WAN.
However, Brocade's Cheng said, there is no mandatory dependency between the fabric and SDN, meaning that it is important for companies like Brocade to work with others involved in developing SDN technology, underscoring the importance of developing a hybrid model in which SDN technology overlays existing networking infrastructure.
"If someone wants to go to SDN, which is aimed at making the user experience more robust, it doesn't make sense if you don't change the infrastructure, which includes the fabric, routers and switches," he said. "But with clever deployment of OpenFlow and a hybrid model, customers don't have to change that infrastructure."
The ability to work with non-Brocade implementations of SDN, such as the SDN technology VMware is getting with its acquisition of Nicira, is important to developing a software-defined networking ecosystem, Cheng said.
"We believe this is how SDN will evolve," he said. "Not by forcing customers to do forklift upgrades, but to allow them to use SDN on existing infrastructures."