IBM on Wednesday unveiled the components that enables customers and their solution provider partners to build a complete OpenFlow standard-based software-defined networking solution with the release of its new SDN controller.
IBM's new IBM System Networking Programmable Network Controller is an SDN software application that runs on a Linux-based platform to provide intelligent networking based on the OpenFlow standard, said Rakesh Saha, director of product management for IBM's System Networking organization.
"SDN allows users to control their networks with software and treat their networks as a service," Saha said. "We've taken the control plane off the network and run it as software in an appliance. This is known as the SDN controller."
SDN in general requires networking software that runs on servers, or the SDN controller, and not on the network, Saha said. That software can control the network as a service with APIs supplied by the SDN controller, he said.
This is important for customers looking to integrate their business applications with their networks, Saha said. "We envision applications that will tell the networks what services are needed, for example 2 Gbit-per-second bandwidth or a VPN, and the network will provide it," he said.
Today, that control is done at the switch level, Saha said. Under SDN, those switches are controlled by the SDN controller.
The IBM System Networking Programmable Network Controller controls and configures OpenFlow networks by providing a virtual layer on top of the network controller, Saha said. "Customers can use it to create Layer 2 and Layer 3 virtual networks as well as a policy-based network," he said.
It works with multivendor networking gear that complies with the OpenFlow 1.0 standard, including switches from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and NEC, which are currently shipping.
A single IBM System Networking Programmable Network Controller lists for $92,000, including a license for a single SDN switch. Additional SDN switch licenses list for as low as $1,700 each in volume, Saha said.
A second SDN controller can be purchased at the same list price for high availability purposes, Saha said. "We suggest customers deploy in high availability configurations with two servers running in active standby mode," he said.
The IBM System Networking Programmable Network Controller is not IBM's sole SDN development focus. The company is also developing an SDN software overlay technology called DOVE, or Distributed Overlay Vertical Ethernet.
Unlike networks built using OpenFlow, which requires all the switches and controllers in the network to be compatible to the OpenFlow standard, DOVE software overlays an existing network infrastructure regardless of whether it is OpenFlow-compatible or not to allow virtual networks to be built on physical equipment.
That is similar to the approach by Nicira, which was acquired by VMware this Summer.
PUBLISHED OCT. 3, 2012