Hewlett-Packard will add support for the OpenFlow protocol to its entire HP Networking line by the middle of next year, part of a broad push by HP to be a dominant player behind the software-defined networking (SDN) trend.
HP back in February confirmed OpenFlow-enabled versions of 16 of its switch models. It had been supporting OpenFlow on switches for years, but buying OpenFlow switches from HP previously required special licensing. The initial 16 included HP's 3500, 4500 and 8200 switch lines.
Fast forward eight months, and HP has added HP 3800 switches to that lineup -- a total of nine additional switches -- and is launching a virtualized controller, the HP Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller, intended to ease management burdens by eliminating the need for many manual command-line-interface entries and providing APIs for custom application development and integration.
HP boasts 15 million installed OpenFlow-enabled switch ports, according to Kash Sheikh, HP Networking director of marketing.
"That's the largest installed base in the industry," he said. "And our partners are already selling these products. There are no additional licensing requirements and no hidden charges for any of this."
[Related: HP Broadens OpenFlow Support]
Another new offering from HP is software called Virtual Cloud Networks, through which customers can create isolated, virtual cloud networks through a self-service infrastructure off the public cloud. In addition, HP has a new application called HP Sentinel Security, which automates access control and intrusion prevention with OpenFlow-enabled switches using the HP virtual controller.
"This is a complete solution," said Saar Gillai, HP Networking's CTO. "Customers are looking for that -- a full solution from the infrastructure layer on out, and we offer capability and reliability with OpenFlow to support this."
It's early days yet for SDN, which customers and partners are just starting to ask about, said Gillai.
"They're finding that SDN is more about what they can do as opposed to the technology jumble -- how can I do things that create more value," he said. "There is a lot more interest than there [was a year ago] but people need education in terms of how does this help me, and how do I do this with my existing network."
SDN is key to HP's Virtual Application Network approach, which was unveiled in April as HP's strategy for virtualized networking and how key technologies such as OpenFlow are influencing customer spend on infrastructure. Other recent moves by HP include an alliance with application delivery networking king F5 Networks to integrate HP Virtual Application Network products and services with F5's Big-IP ADN controllers.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP, meanwhile, is also looking to bring together its various cloud computing products and services under one umbrella, and last month created an internal division to manage those offerings. As reported by CRN via an internal HP memo, Gillai will be transitioning out of his HP Networking role and into the role of senior vice president HP Converged Cloud, Products and Technology.
Gillai acknowledged his move but declined to comment further.
"We're going to talk about that. HP will talk about that with more detail in the future, but we have aspirations to be a big player in cloud and we intend to be a major player in the cloud moving forward," he said. "That's all I can say for now."
PUBLISHED OCT. 2, 2012