New Big Switch Software Aims To Fire Up SDN, OpenFlow Adoption


Network virtualization startup Big Switch Networks this week unveiled Switch Light, an open-source thin switching platform aimed at accelerating the adoption of the OpenFlow communications protocol and software-defined networking.

The Switch Light software, which is slated for commercial availability in the second half of 2013, can be deployed as both a virtual switch for server hypervisors or in a silicon-based physical switching platform, also known as "whitebox switch."

According to Mountain View, Calif.-based Big Switch Networks, the Switch Light platform frees customers from what it calls the largely proprietary or vendor-specific networking architectures in place today.

[Related: Big Switch Networks' SDN Controller Gets OpenStack Plugin]

"Networking equipment today remains in the mainframe era. You've got propriety silicon and proprietary systems ... that make it really hard to add new and innovative functionality," said Andrew Harding, senior director of product marketing at Big Switch Networks.

Switch Light aims to change all that, Harding said, by giving users a wider range of network hardware options, all while lowering operational costs through centralized network automation and the elimination of manual provisioning tasks.

"The open-source software is robust and mature enough to combine with these systems to build out true network automation," Harding said. "We can bring to the network what has been in the server world for some time, through automation and centralized control. And, as a result, this increases productivity and reduces the cost of owning and managing a large-scale network."

Initially, Switch Light will be available to run on Broadcom-based switches and Linux-based hypervisors or virtual switches when it launches later this year. Big Switch Networks said the software, expected to go into beta this June, will be ported to other devices down the line.

Big Switch Networks said the Switch Light platform is free when it's coupled with other offerings in its Open SDN Suite, such as Big Network Controller, Big Virtual Switch or Big Tap, the company's network monitoring application.

Founded in 2010, Big Switch Networks has quickly become one of the stand-out vendors in the burgeoning SDN space. The company in February said it had captured $6.5 million an additional round of Series B funding led by Intel Capital, elevating its total venture capital take to more than $45 million.

According to Harding, Big Switch Networks also has big plans to embrace the channel, with a formal partner program in the works for later this year. "We haven't launched a partner program in North America just yet, but that's clearly an obvious next step," Harding said.

In a separate interview with CRN in November, Big Switch said it aims to eventually sell 100 percent through the channel and that it has already started to recruit system integrators and data center infrastructure-focused solution providers that can consult and design network architecture using Big Switch Networks software.

PUBLISHED MARCH 27, 2013