I’m waiting at the Las Vegas airport, catching my breath after several jam-packed days on the show floor of Interop. There’s a ton of email and other work stuff I really should be catching up on, but it’s been such an awesome show for OpenFlow that I’m compelled to write my first blog post here at Big Switch.

Obviously, I’m biased, but it’s pretty clear Interop was a coming-out party for OpenFlow. OpenFlow is the core technology we build upon at Big Switch – we make an enterprise OpenFlow controller and OpenFlow-enabled applications. I spent much of my time at the lab answering questions like these:

What is OpenFlow? (A: an open protocol for controlling forwarding in the switch – the networking device equivalent of an open x86 instruction set)

What does it enable? (A: network architectures that support network virtualization, advanced forwarding, and programmability)

Who’s involved with OpenFlow and starting to use it? (A: look at the list of members and the board of the Open Networking Foundation - and that’s just the start…)

Here are two initial pictures/screenshots that summarize why I’m so excited about OpenFlow and the growing ecosystem around it. First, these were the racks from the lab, and they reminded me of the “I Spy” books I used to read to my kids: “Look, Noah, can you find all the companies whose OpenFlow switches are in the picture below?”

interopnetopenflowlab-rack

Second, here’s a screenshot from the CLI of our Big Switch Controller, where it was controlling a bunch of these OpenFlow-enabled switches. Look at the names of all the companies whose switches we were talking to.

interopnetopenflowlab-show-switch-output

My big takeaway from this experience? “Interop” is short for “Interoperability.” We’d been working with just about everyone represented in the rack to varying degrees, but I still got a rush seeing the gear all plugged in and then running the demos over all the equipment. It was amazing to watch the number of switches in our “show switch” command grow steadily from 7 to 13 to over 25. In one case, the show represented the first time our OpenFlow controller was paired with the partner’s switch, and it just worked. Like the sticker says, I love OpenFlow!

I definitely wanted to give a shout out to Jed Daniels and Nick Bastin of OPNET and their InteropNet OpenFlow lab team for pulling this all together in such a short amount of time – it was a lot of fun working on Interop, and I hope we can do this again soon.

Finally, the “I Spy” books have “answers” in the back, but you’re not getting off that easy! Stay tuned – the annotated picture and more thoughts on Interop coming in my next post…