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Pica8: Cloud Bound Open Switches Fortify SDN Offerings

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Pica8 introduced its P-3297 open switch, a software-defined networking (SDN) device purpose-built for cloud data centers. According to the vendor's announcement yesterday, the new switch, along with its other switching products, completes an optimized line-up of open networking devices.

The Pica8 P-3297 Open Swtich. Image courtesy of Pica8.The Pica8 P-3297 Open Swtich. Image courtesy of Pica8.

"Pica8's go-to-market strategy leveraging bare-metal white box switches mirrors the competitive nature of cloud services to deliver the highest quality service and the lowest possible costs," says Brad Casemore, Research Director, Datacenter Networks at IDC. "To do this, cloud providers are looking for new ways to deploy a new operational framework based on hardware abstraction leveraging commoditized white box hardware, which lowers costs all while working with existing capital investments. Pica8's support of OVS provides a path to the OpenStack community as well as OpenFlow programming."

[ CHECK OUT : Software Defined Networking: Introduction to OpenFlow ]

Pica8 states it is the first vendor to ship three 48x1GbE models, including the P-3297, and four options of 10GbE. Pica8 white box switches use an open network Linux based operating system called PicOS that runs standards-based Layer 2 / Layer 3 protocols with OpenFlow 1.3 and Open-vSwitch (OVS) 2.0 integration.

OVS runs as a process within PicOS, and provides the OpenFlow interface that allows for external programming. The PicOS has a graphical user interface for easier programming of the OVS.

PicOS uses high-performance commodity hardware to deliver wire speed through a switching fabric capacity of 176 Gbps. The P-3297 is designed with a large Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM) that doubles the available memory space for OpenFlow rules.

"The IT infrastructure depends on its core network components. The concept of white box networking equipment is evolving and developing hand in hand with network virtualization," says Tracy Corbo, Principal Research Analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. "While existing network equipment has been tried and tested, commodity networking platforms have yet to prove their merits in production environments. Also customers need backward compatibility. Major design shifts take time and require an integration of old and new.  Pica8 is providing a turnkey approach that enables IT shops to experiment with both bare metal switches and new technologies such as OpenFlow without having to build it all from scratch. At the same time they are providing support at Layer2/Layer3 to ensure backward compatibility with existing IT infrastructures."

The P-3297 switch is available now with PicOS version 2.1.3 and lists at US$4,690. For more information about Pica8's line of open switches, visit

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