6 ways to build SDNs without OpenFlow

OpenFlow open source protocol and API get all the hype, but there are other ways to program networks

Although OpenFlow is stirring up all of the excitement around software defined networking (SDN), you can program a network with standard tools that have been around a while. Here are a few examples.

FULL STORY: OpenFlow not the only path to network revolution

Command-line interfaces

CLIs are the interfaces common to switches and routers, which network managers use to configure them, and activate or deactivate services.

"There's more than one way to be open," says Jayshree Ullal, Arista CEO. "And there's more than one way to scale. CLIs may not be a programmable interface with a (user interface) we are used to; but it's the way real men build real networks today."


Simple Network Management Protocol is a staple of network management. Among its active management tasks, SNMP can be used to modify and apply a new configuration through remote modification of configuration information.


Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol () is an XML streaming protocol for presence and messaging routing. It also provides a secure but easily programmed language for linking diverse networks.


The IETF's Netconf is designed to reduce the programming effort involved in automating device configuration. Netconf would use XML to configure devices and to more efficiently tap state and configuration data stored on devices.


OpenStack, the Rackspace/NASA open source software for cloud computing, is free, modular open source software for developing public and private cloud computing fabrics and controllers. More than 135 companies are involved in the OpenStack project.

Virtualization software APIs

APIs in hypervisors and other virtualization software, such as VMware's vSphere, virtualize server, storage and network resources, and aggregate and allocate them on demand to applications. They include tools to define resource pools and business rules for service levels, and to automate the enforcement of service levels to ensure application availability, performance, security and scalability.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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