SDN leadership recognized with Innovation Award from SearchNetworking; Plus ProgrammableFlow 3.0

Summer for the ProgrammableFlow® software defined networking (SDN) team has been anything but dull.  Hard at work to maintain and grow even further our leadership position in SDN and OpenFlow, we released Version 3 of the ProgrammableFlow controller last week, featuring end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) from a central point of control, and significantly expanding ProgrammableFlow scalability.

SearchNetworking SDN Award NEC OpenFlowSearchNetworking SDN Award NEC OpenFlowAnd clearly our efforts have not gone unnoticed.  SearchNetworking announced last week they had awarded NEC ProgrammableFlow network suite with their first ever Innovation Award for Software Defined Networking.  With all of the buzz around SDN and OpenFlow, it is especially rewarding to read comments from SearchNetworking Executive Editor Rivka Gewirtz Little “..plenty of companies were offering SDN visions, but very few had actual products.   In the past year, many companies have begun to firm up their SDN plans, but one company made the quickest strides in getting innovative OpenFlow products to market – NEC Corporation of America.”

Kudos to the ProgrammableFlow engineering team!  With over 400 person years invested to date in OpenFlow and SDN, ProgrammableFlow’s substantial benefits of a fully virtualized network improving the rate of return across IT investments are increasingly apparent.

Version 3 continues to strengthen our position; with more proof points to support improved resource utilization and increased business agility.  Customer NTT Communications has already deployed the PF6800 ProgrammableFlow Controller as part of their new global “BizHosting Enterprise Cloud” service platform.  BizHosting uses OpenFlow technologies to provide borderless cloud services that enable integrated operations of numerous data centers both domestically and internationally.  This global scale ICT infrastructure is flexibly controlled and takes only a few minutes to remotely complete connections between data centers that traditionally took several days.

NTT is a Board member of the Open Networking Foundation.  As you know, the ONF is the organization responsible for the continued evolution of the OpenFlow standard.  NEC was a founding member, too, of the ONF and continues our active involvement.

NEC_SDN_QoS_Policy_ProgrammableFlowAs I mentioned, Version 3 of NEC’s ProgrammableFlow OpenFlow Fabric features end-to-end Quality of Service design and network management-all from the centralized console or API integrated into the ProgrammableFlow controller. This capability, unique to ProgrammableFlow and illustrated here, was extremely well received when we covered the enhancements with industry watchers.  They instantly recognized the opportunity for significant operational time-savings, as enterprises and data centers offload configuration work to the automation of ProgrammableFlow.  Network administrators can now re-deploy their time and skills to strategic projects, again positioning the network to be more fully responsive to the needs of the business.  And with Version 3 we are deploying a Web API using REST protocol.

We believe an essential element of Software Defined Networking is this open API.  The API provided with our Programmable Network Fabric will enable customers to take advantage of a new ecosystem of network services and applications envisioned in the future – very similar to the way Google’s Android is able to leverage 3rd party applications now that are written to this  standardized interface.  The OpenFlow protocol, standardized today by ONF and backed by dozens of leading customers and networking vendors, provides a platform for this standardization.

Finally, many customers will be happy to hear that Version 3 will enable them to scale based on their need.  With this release, depending on usage, ProgrammableFlow can now control as many as 100 switches, and operators can build networks with more than 4,096 VLAN ID configurations.

And don’t forget we have our new virtual switch available now for early adopters-delivering SDN to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 customers.  If you are interested in piloting this exciting new technology, or Version 3 of ProgrammableFlow, contact your NEC account manager today.  More information is available too at www.necam.com/pflow.

ProgrammableFlow and Windows Server 2012 deliver Software Defined Networking to Private Cloud

NEC ProgrammableFlow selected as Finalist for Microsoft Best of Tech Ed North America

ProgrammableFlow has been selected as a finalist for The Microsoft Best of TechEd (BOTE) North America Awards, produced by Windows IT Pro, SQL Server Pro, SharePoint Pro and Dev Pro, which recognizes innovative products and services being showcased this week in Orlando at Microsoft TechEd.  More than 300 products were nominated with finalists selected in 15 categories.  ProgrammableFlow is a finalist in the Networking category.

All registered attendees can vote for ProgrammableFlow to win by visiting the Best of TechEd webpage before 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, June 13.

As reported in a previous press release, we demonstrated a ProgrammableFlow Virtual Switch for Windows Server 2012 at Microsoft BUILD last fall.  We are continuing to march forward, in lock-step with Microsoft, leveraging the Hyper-V Extensible Switch application programming interface (API) to deliver the exciting benefits of OpenFlow and Software Defined Networking (SDN) to Windows Server 2012 customers.

With ProgrammableFlow, the entire network can be configured and monitored and controlled from a central point, including visualizing end-to-end network flows and drag and drop configuration and network design.  Network performance is also optimized by network level load balancing across multiple paths for more available bandwidth and faster network response.

Best of Microsoft TechEd 2012 FinalistProgrammableFlow leverages OpenFlow to separate the control plane from the data plane, which allows for network-wide virtualization and programming of the network.  With ProgrammableFlow, delivery of network services and benefits are dramatically accelerated.  No longer will the network be a bottleneck for the progress of the business.

This week (June 11-14) we are demonstrating ProgrammableFlow with Hyper-V again in the Microsoft Partner Pavilion (#18) at TechEd 2012 in Orlando.  Our own Su-hun Yun will be taking the stage at 1:30 on Wednesday, June 13, during the Tech Session led by Microsoft Bob Combs in a session called “Get Hands-on with the New Hyper-V Extensible Switch in Windows Server 2012”.  He will repeat the stage demo of ProgrammableFlow with Windows Server 2012 at TechEd in Europe June 29.  And we recently completed a short video on the capabilities, which you can access on the NEC YouTube channel here.  Stop by at TechEd and view this exciting new capability live if you are there!

 

NEC ProgrammableFlow Version 2 takes home coveted Best of Interop Grand Prize Award

Best_Interop_Award_2012_Winner_BannerIt was a banner Day 1 at Interop in Las Vegas for the ProgrammableFlow team.  Sitting in the expectant audience, listening as each of the eight Best of Interop (BOI) winners were announced, we were gratified to win Best of Interop in Management, Monitoring and Testing.  The competition was tough, against 40 other innovators and applicants in the category, including Riverbed’s Virtual Cascade Shark and Net Optics’ Spyke appliance.  However, according to the lead judge it was hard to beat something as unique as the NEC PF6800 ProgrammableFlow Controller when there’s “nothing comparable on the market today.”

And just as we had settled again into our seats, we were back on our feet in excitement:  the NEC ProgrammableFlow PF6800 Controller had won the Grand Prize—the best of the Best of Interop! According to lead judge Stephen Hill, “the ProgrammableFlow Controller PF6800 from NEC delivered the innovation, insight, and advanced thinking expected of a Best of Interop Grand Prize winner. ”  Read his thoughts in Information Week’s Best of Interop 2012:  Award Winners.  More details can be found in the press release appearing on the NEC Corporation of America website.

We have been working in the OpenFlow arena since the founding of the Clean Slate Lab in 2007 at Stanford University.  Atsushi Iwata, who leads the NEC R&D effort for ProgrammableFlow, understood the promise and the vision, and wrote a proposal that resulted in NEC providing funding for those very first efforts-along with Deutsche Telecom and Stanford itself.  Atsushi spent three years at the University working alongside the brilliant engineers and faculty at Clean Slate who developed the initial OpenFlow protocol.  Then, taking his knowledge back to NEC, Atsushi and his dedicated team have leveraged the protocol to develop the first OpenFlow fabric, providing complete network virtualization:  ProgrammableFlow.

You may remember, we also won 2011 Best of Interop award in the Infrastructure category with the ProgrammableFlow 1/10 GbE switch.  At last year’s show we were the first to announce delivery of a Generally Available OpenFlow product family.  At the time, OpenFlow and Software Defined Networking (SDN) were an enigma to most network architects and IT managers.  Now the industry is awakening to the promise of SDN and NEC is proud to be in the forefront of this revolutionary movement.

Congratulations go out to the ProgrammableFlow team – on both sides of the Pacific! Here are a few of our members celebrating the award this afternoon at Interop.

NEC_Best_Interop_Winners

IBM System Networking Supports Industry Standard Open Data Centers with Interoperable Networks

SDN-architecture-openflowThe modern data center is going through an unprecedented transformation, as customers attempt to deploy new applications in a highly virtualized, cloud-based environment.  What is clear is that traditional networks are not suited to handling the traffic patterns and volumes created by these more agile cloud-computing environments.  What we also know is that centralizing network intelligence through software-defined networking (SDN) has emerged as the preferred approach to solving the Big Data / network bottleneck conundrum.

Today the IBM System Networking released a series of technical papers that further support and underline industry standards unfolding around SDN and OpenFlow, a protocol developed at Stanford University offering an open-standards approach to SDN.

Both IBM and NEC are strong supporters of industry standards within the data center network, and we’re pleased to endorse the series of technical briefs known as Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN).  In addition to OpenFlow, the IBM papers will cover other standards such as IEEE 802.1Qbg and FCoE.

Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D., an IBM Distinguished Engineer, wrote the ODIN on SDN architecture.  In it, he points to the logical view of the SDN architecture, using a diagram developed by members of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).  NEC was a founding member at ONF, and participated in developing this view of SDN.  We strongly support IBM in their discussions around this standardized network architecture, depicted here.

You can read the full texts of IBM ODIN papers at on the IBM System Networking website.   You can also follow Casimer DeCusatis on his blog  or on Twitter for further updates.  And, of course, you can read and learn more about ProgrammableFlow at www.necam.com/pflow.  In January, NEC announced its SDN collaboration with IBM.

NEC and IBM announce co-marketing of first high performance OpenFlow ecosystem

NEC and IBM are together transforming the networks of old, as they announce today the industry’s first high performance OpenFlow ecosystem, complete with customer references.  These include early innovators Selerity, furnishing real-time data for global financial markets, Tervela, who provide a high-speed messaging fabric, and Stanford University, the birthplace of OpenFlow.  These organizations join over two dozen other institutions and enterprises who have  deployed ProgrammableFlow, choosing the integrated NEC/IBM OpenFlow solution, which aligns with the OpenFlow standard and fulfills the promise of open networks.

We are excited to be co-marketing with IBM the first high-performance OpenFlow network solution, including our ProgrammableFlow controller, our PF5420 1GbE ProgrammableFlow switch, the new PF5820 10GbE switch, and IBM’s OpenFlow-enabled G8264 top-of-rack 10GbE switch.  This ecosystem, bought into by the companies mentioned above, begins to reveal the true promise of OpenFlow.

Enterprise Strategies Group: Challenges of Managing a Data Center Network

In related news, Jon Oltsik blogged in NetworkWorld earlier this month about a circumstance he calls “Network Discontinuity”.  This is a condition he equates to the demise of dinosaurs, which he says ESG research has uncovered in many large enterprise data center networks today.  Jon outlines all of the factors including cloud and virtualization that are changing the data center, but the network has been slow (like the dinosaur) in adapting to all of the changes.  As a result, he says “the data center networking dinosaur is adapting but we are rapidly approaching a breaking point.”  Jon graciously gave us permission to use the following chart, which outlines ESG’s recent findings on problems with data center networks today.     Do you see your issues reflected here?

We are observing gathering interest around SDN and the OpenFlow standard.  Big Switch Networks made an announcement recently, providing their controller, Floodlight, to open source.  Of course, NEC’s own Helios controller was added to the open source OpenFlow controller list back in November of 2010.  With Helios, now known as Trema, we provided an open source modular framework for developing OpenFlow controllers in Ruby/C.

NEC is at Joint Techs, this week, a conference for Network Engineers put on by Internet2in Baton Rouge.  We presented an update on SDN at NEC and January 25-tomorrow-at 8:50 CST will participate in  a panel discussion on Software Defined Networking: Industry Involvement, led by Matt Davy of Indiana University.

Finally, we’d like to give a shout-out to one of our favorite Network bloggers, Ivan Pepelnjak, who just put up a new sitewe think you may want to visit.  Ivan has been following OpenFlow and SDN closely, and is offering a three hour overview of SDNon February 7.  We plan to attend, and you may want to check it out, as well.