The sky is falling. The Earth is flat. OpenFlow is not robust. OpenFlow is a toy. OpenFlow is not deployable at large scale.

All these charges (well maybe not the first two) are being leveled by incumbent networking hardware vendors desperately trying to slow down OpenFlow adoption, while they figure out how to continue extracting the same obscene margins from their customers.

At the Open Networking Summit a few weeks ago, two heretics to these old-fashioned notions were up on stage. One of those speakers was Vint Cerf, the acknowledged Father of the Internet (sorry Al) and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, who revealed that Google quietly and efficiently migrated all their data centers to OpenFlow in about 6-9 months, without experiencing a single outage or failure. 

This announcement was a game changing revelation for the networking industry since Google’s deployment in their hyper-scale data centers is arguably the largest deployment of OpenFlow in the world.  That doesn’t sound too toy-like, nor does it seem to validate the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that one large incumbent is trying to spread about OpenFlow. This is Google, and all their data centers, and they’re not messing around.

The second prophet was Rich Groves who until recently was a Network Architect with Microsoft Global Network Services, which runs the Microsoft Bing Data Centers.

Rich Groves ONUG Preso with Big Tap 2013At a slightly less well-attended session, Rich presented the large-scale monitoring network that he designed and built called DeMON, which employs OpenFlow on thousands of ports.  

It is performing beautifully, brought him many capabilities not possible with the alternative he ran prior, and saved him a ton of money and headaches. This also didn’t seem like a toy. It sounded quite large, successful and scalable.  And, another data point from a massive, highly capable technology-driven enterprise.

The largest and most sophisticated customers in the world are getting very comfortable with OpenFlow.  The detractors and naysayers are either lying or they are simply not paying attention. OpenFlow is out of the university, out of the lab and in the wild in real, high-performance data centers. This coming year, we will see more and more deployments; so don’t believe the anti-OpenFlow folks. They are scared and we don’t blame them. OpenFlow is not going anywhere but up.




Jason Matlof, Big Switch Networks VP of Marketing