Networks today have not kept pace with the innovation and evolution of other elements of IT, including such advancements as server virtualization, e-commerce, and cloud computing. In general, enterprise networks are still inflexible, too complex, with vast costs and investment required.
To address these challenges, NEC co-founded Clean Slate Lab at Stanford University. The mission of Clean Slate was to “reinvent the Internet”, with the intent to overcome fundamental architectural limitations of today’s Internet, incorporate new technologies, enable a new class of applications and services, and continue to be a platform for innovation. From this effort a new open protocol was introduced and tested, called OpenFlow.
Based on our early experiences with Stanford, Rutgers, Georgia Tech and other leading research institutions, NEC developed an OpenFlow switch and placed it in production at 17 universities worldwide. These implementations allowed the institutions to separate out the network control element from the flow of data, increasing the control and manageability of the network dramatically.
Today, OpenFlow has taken another step forward with the announcement of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world are the founding board members of ONF, including Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo!. NEC has joined these other member companies to further support this innovation effort.
NEC has been, and will continue to be, extremely active in this space seeking opportunities to bring programmability to the network, enabling it to more closely match the applications running over it. You can read more about our efforts today with OpenFlow and in Programmable Networking and stay tuned for more exciting announcements in the near future.