In a race to meet ever-burgeoning enterprise infrastructure demands, Dell and Cisco each added to their nascent arsenals this week with launches of data center switches compatible with software-defined networking protocols.
Dell’s current data center switches now run operating systems that support OpenFlow–one protocol that enables software-defined networking, the company announced. The Z9000 and S4810 switches can now be managed by OpenFlow software controllers made by other vendors, such as Big Switch Networks, and by more than one software controller at a time. Dell’s data center switch OS–FTOS 9.1–will be added to more switches soon, which means they, too, will be OpenFlow-compatible soon.
At almost the same time, Cisco added to its SDN offerings with a software-based controller compatible with its ONE Platform Kit (its called the Cisco ONE controller)--an SDN enabling standard competing with OpenFlow. Cisco’s new controller is also OpenFlow compatible, but unlike many others on the market, it isn’t an open source design. Cisco has launched a slew of products designed to fit within the Open Network Environment (ONE) platform.
Both Dell and Cisco are leading the charge to separate network data from actual data center hardware and make it possible to steer traffic with traffic controllers instead of switches and routers. This core principle of software-defined networking, if implemented efficiently, could give enterprises more granular control over data flow through their networks, resulting in faster, cheaper networking. The market for SDN tools and services could be worth $3.7 billion by 2016, according to research firm IDC.
Rachel Rosmarin's technology reporting experience goes back a decade to the dawn of Wi-Fi, smartphones and the Mp3. She has an in-depth knowledge of consumer electronics and has cultivated her love of useful new toys and innovative social software at publications including Tom’s Guide, Forbes, Business 2.0, Sound & Vision and Mobile Magazine. She holds degrees in Journalism and Science In Human Culture from Northwestern University and is based in Los Angeles.
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