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And then there's Cisco. As the leading vendor in routers and switches, Cisco may have the most to lose from the movement to SDN. Even though Cisco is a member of the ONF and plans to put OpenFlow on its Nexus switch line, according to a Cisco official's blog, SDN could take the value proposition out of the company's end-to-end architectural sales pitch.
David Meyer, distinguished engineer at Cisco, says the company understands the potential impact of OpenFlow/SDN and is formulating a reaction to it.
Nonetheless, enterprises and large-scale data centers, like those that belong to Yahoo, have a need for it now, says Igor Gashinsky, principal architect at Yahoo.
"One of the problems is topology discovery," he says. "Routers spend 30+% of CPU cycles redoing topology discovery. We already have this in a central database! So let's just program it!"
With a general API like OpenFlow, SDN makes the introduction of new vendor operating systems much easier, Gashinsky says. It also allows users to create plug-ins for adding features to the control plane without having to change the underlying hardware -- or to enhance the hardware without changing the control plane, he says.
"This is like the move from mainframes to Linux on servers," Gashinsky says of SDN.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.