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Big Switch's Big Pivot

Company recasts SDN business prop from overlays on partner hardware to physical/virtual on bare metal

By Jim Duffy on Wed, 09/11/13 - 11:06pm.

It's a big switch for Big Switch. In an effort to broaden the market for its products, Big Switch Networks undertook what company officials are calling a big pivot.

It killed the first release of its Big Virtual Switch application and is now focusing on SDNs that merge the physical and virtual worlds, vs. the OpenFlow-based overlay/underlay approach it had been targeting and advocating. Big Switch is also now offering its products in bundles that run on commodity bare metal switches rather than piecemeal controller, and monitoring and network virtualization applications that run on switches from ecosystem partners. Its SwitchLight "thin" virtual switch was always designed to run on bare metal.

The bundles are called Cloud Fabric, which is about to enter beta, and Monitoring Fabric, which is ramping in the market.

[SPLINTER GROUP: Cisco, VMware and OpenFlow fragment SDNs]

Big Switch has also left the OpenDaylight open source SDN consortium, and saw six of its partners - Juniper, Arista and Brocade among them - jump ship as the company undertook this transformation over the past year. The company's new focus on bare metal hardware was "at odds" with its now former switch partners, says President and Co-founder Kyle Forster.

And some, like Juniper, just went and acquired their own SDN controllers.

Forster said Big Switch's original business proposition of OpenFlow-based three-tier - network, controller, applications -- network virtualization was just too complex for customers.

"It was too complicated, there were too many moving parts to get one working SDN," he says.

By pre-bundling its products and offering them on bare metal hardware, Big Switch hopes its products appeal to a much broader market by drastically cutting