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June 20, 2011

IBM's Tuchler on the Advantages and Uses of OpenFlow

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

At the recent Interop (News - Alert) Vegas 2011, TMC’s CEO Rich Tehrani spoke with Dan Tuchler, the VP of Product Management for IBM (News - Alert). Tuchler represents the system networking side of IBM, which recently purchased Blade Network Technologies. As Tuchler noted, he actually came in to IBM as part of the Blade acquisition.

At the Interop show, NEC (News - Alert) Corporation of America released a radically simplified architecture for data center and cloud networks with the introduction of the ProgrammableFlow Network Architecture and Product Family. ProgrammableFlow lets customers streamline the management of data center networks through greater levels of automation while driving down operational costs and time to deliver business services.

ProgrammableFlow uses the OpenFlow protocol to create Software-Defined Network (SDN) virtualization, allowing NEC customers to deploy, control, monitor, and manage multi-tenant network infrastructure. The OpenFlow standard is aimed at changing the way traffic flows through a network.

Tuchler called OpenFlow an exciting new technology, saying it really has the potential to shape how networks are built. It’s still in early days, so “people are trying to figure out where it fits in the network,” and what can be done with it.

Basically it abstracts out the switching element of the network into two parts: The switch itself, which is moving packets, and the challenge there is to move them fast with low latency, and separates that from the control plane.

He then explained how the technology can enables “a real conceptual abstraction of the network.” You can draw what people call “software-defined networks,” which works as an overlay on the physical network, and you don’t have to get so caught up in the nuts and bolts of the network. Instead you can focus on the business application you’re trying to solve.

See the full video below.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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