Interop: HP Trumpets Its SDN Line-Up As Industry's 'Most Complete'


Hewlett-Packard believes it's a force to be reckoned with in the world of software-defined networking (SDN), touting its SDN family and new FlexFabric products at this week's Interop event as the industry's most comprehensive and "complete."

HP's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Networking Bethany Mayer took to the stage Thursday morning in Las Vegas to walk Interop attendees through HP's latest and greatest in the realm of SDN. Before diving into the details of HP's recently unveiled FlexFabric line-up, Mayer stressed the urgency of implementing SDN solutions in today's data centers, many of which, she said, have been stuck in a period of stagnation for the past three decades.

"As the co-founder of HP, David Packard once said, 'to remain static is to lose ground.' I really believe, having been in the industry for as long as I have, that we are losing ground, and that's primarily because the network has remained static," Mayer told the crowd. "It hasn't changed in terms of how we manage it, how we deploy it, how we architect it. Several things we do today we did exactly the same way 20, 30 years ago, and it really does need to change."

[Related: Upping The Big Data Ante: HP Creates Converged Systems Unit]

This need for a networking transformation -- particularly within the data center -- was a running theme throughout this year's Interop event, with vendors including Juniper Networks also unveiling new SDN products.

During her keynote, Mayer argued that there are a multitude of factors hindering data center networks today. Among them, she said, are complex, multitiered architectures, bandwidth limitations and manual configuration processes that are often time-consuming and more prone to error than automated designs.

To combat these issues, Mayer said HP is focused on providing three key components within its SDN solutions: simplicity, scalability and automation. "We know a paradigm shift has to occur for customers, and we created products to support that," she said.

These three components are the foundation of HP's new FlexFabric family of products, which includes both physical and virtual switches, along with HP's new Virtualized Services Router (VSR), a router that leverages software-based Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies to streamline the delivery of services on a virtual machine.

The new FlexFabric line of switches includes the 12900 core and OpenFlow-enabled switch series, which is optimized for virtualized workloads and can support up to 768 10-GbE ports or up to 256 40-GbE ports.

The FlexFabric family also includes the FlexFabric 5900 switch, which comes in both a physical or virtual model, and the new FlexFabric 11908 aggregation switch, which Mayer touted as the industry's first aggregation switch to support the OpenFlow protocol.

The FlexFabric products round out HP's broader SDN portfolio, which also consists of the Virtual Application Network HP introduced in April 2012. At last year's Interop, HP announced its Virtual Application Network could be used alongside F5 Network's application delivery network (ADN) products as a bundled solution set.

Mayer ended her keynote by urging attendees to stop viewing SDN as just a concept or trend, but as a reality that they need to embrace to take their data centers to the next generation of networking.

"The bottom line here is that SDN is a paradigm shift in networking," Mayer said. "This is a reality. This isn't a discussion; this isn't a concept. This is real. And it's really time to transform the way we do networking. 30 years is long enough."

PUBLISHED MAY 9, 2013