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The OpenFlow protocol, along with supporting SDN technologies, provides a way to decouple the control software from network switches and routers, setting the stage to automate, or at least expedite, many of these tasks.
In a blog entry posted Wednesday, Casado further expounded on the industry shift to SDN.
"In this architecture, software on the edge ... provides functionality that has typically been found in the network," Casado wrote. "As a result, this software is largely decoupled from the underlying physical network and can be run over any general purpose network hardware that provides IP connectivity."
One big, enthusiastic user of OpenFlow is Google. "We've invested in building our own OpenFlow routers and put them in our data centers," said Vint Cerf, during his keynote at the Usenix LISA (Large Installation System Administration) conference in San Diego last December. Cerf is a Google vice president and chief Internet evangelist, as well as the co-creator of the TCP protocol that is part of the Internet backbone.
With OpenFlow "you can do a very good job of managing where the flows go in your underlying transport system, so we are able to get very high percentage of utilization out of a optical fiber network," Cerf said.