Rob Sherwood, Big Switch's CTO, gave a BrightTalk Webinar last week on Modern OpenFlow, and an overview of the open source components that play in it.

As one of the one of the inventors of OpenFlow and author of FlowVisor (network virtualization using OpenFlow) in his Stanford days, Rob has been a part of SDN since its inception.  

In this talk, he lays out a few hallmarks of SDN as it matures:

  • The early "three tier" SDN vision of hybrid switches, controller platforms and SDN applications is being replaced by a "hardware/software separation" model where switches automatically download a compatible SDN OS from an application-specific SDN controller at boot time.  Originally pioneered by hyper scale datacenter operators and now fueled by the bare metal switching / open networking trend, this has turned out to be a pragmatic approach to building SDN systems.
  • Think of a modern SDN controller like a supervisor card in a big chassis switch, and all of the SDN switches in the network like line cards.  Many of the same engineering and operating principles apply.
  • Modern implementations of OpenFlow (v1.3 and beyond) are no longer limited by the 2k TCAM sizing limitation, but rather use all of the tables on the latest switching ASICs for large scale.
  • Highly available systems are being built today using modern OpenFlow implementations.  Practically speaking, they offload key control plane processing functions back to the switch.  "Centralize where you can, distribute where you must."
  • The key open source components, particularly those used to build SDN OSs and vSwitches, are maturing in the form of Open Network Linux, Project Indigo, Loxi and others to complement the ecosystem of open source SDN controllers like Project Floodlight.

Check out the Webinar and the resources below if you are interested in learning more.

Additional Resources:

--Kyle Forster, Big Switch Co-Founder / VP Marketing