Yesterday, Brocade announced at the annual Analyst and Technology Day that we have shipped more than a million OpenFlow-enabled router ports to date. So, what does that mean in the evolving world of SDN?
Have you ever had a situation when you came across a feature on a gadget/appliance you already own, that suddenly improves your productivity? Discovering OpenFlow on an MLX port is kind of similar! And the capital cost you incur to evaluate OpenFlow for a specific use case on an MLX infrastructure? Zero! Because every MLX port shipped to date can be upgraded with software to support OpenFlow.
As the market moves from the initial enthusiasm of OpenFlow to more practical deployments, it is logical to ask a few pertinent questions:
How does one migrate from an existing infrastructure that is not OpenFlow-aware to one that is. This is where a capability such as hybrid port mode is so relevant. Other posts on this community have highlighted how this is a practical path to SDN because it enables SDN capabilities without forcing a forklift.
How does one perform flow processing at scale? Is there a performance penalty? Doing these at scale implies having the right system architecture in place to process such flows without any performance penalty.
What does future-proofing really mean? The benefits of an architecture are best revealed well after it is designed and deployed. In the case of MLX, the foundation of a fully programmable architecture has meant that a technology that did not even exist when the platform was designed, could still be fully supported without any penalties.
What SDN controller should I choose? Today, there are more choices than what were available two years ago. Apart from the commercial controllers in the market, Open Daylight with the Hydrogen release is just around the corner.
If you have MLX deployed in your network infrastructure today, try out OpenFlow. There is no cost to creating a slice of your infrastructure for OpenFlow and having it concurrently coexist with your existing network protocols/present mode of operation. You may discover a more programmatic way to solve problems such as service chaining, traffic steering or others.