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OpenFlow startup Big Switch Networks lands funding

Company snags $13.8 million to develop controller

By , Network World
April 07, 2011 10:26 AM ET

Network World - A new switching company is about to emerge with big plans for adding the OpenFlow protocol to your network. Big Switch Networks just received $13.8 million in new funding.

The company is a bit stealthy right now. But it's proposing OpenFlow, the open source-based programmable control plane protocol, as a foundation for building enterprise and service provider networks, especially those with large data centers.

OpenFlow seeks to change the networking world

The company is putting the finishing touches on an OpenFlow controller, according to blogger Greg Ferro at Etherealmind.

OpenFlow is a 6-year-old project initiated by Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Big Switch Networks, based in Palo Alto, is led by Guido Appenzeller, a former a Stanford assistant professor.

Ex-Cisco executive Mike Volpi is on the company's board.

OpenFlow is designed to separate the control function of switches from the switch hardware and forwarding function so that users can program traffic patterns in a network of multivendor switches and routers. Currently, control plane capabilities are tightly tied to specific vendor's hardware and feature limited, if any, programmability.

OpenFlow might even help alleviate the need for users to write customized scripting software to orchestrate traffic among multivendor routers and switches.

An industry group was just formed to promote OpenFlow and software-defined networking. The Open Network Foundation includes Google, Yahoo, Verizon, Cisco and many other industry luminaries.

In addition to Big Switch Networks, OpenFlow is available from switch vendor Pica8. Several major vendors are expected to soon announce plans to support it and the Interop conference in Las Vegas next month is expected to have an OpenFlow demonstration.

Read more about lans & wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.

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