Before I get started, I’ll say upfront, for some of the companies in the ecosystem, they have clear and concise messaging – exactly what they are working on and what they have planned, which is great for all of us. However, for a quite a few, I don’t know much (maybe you do) about what they are working on, but they are calling themselves next generation SDN companies. Their websites couldn’t be vaguer, but I guess that’s all we can expect from companies in stealth mode. With that said, feel free to comment if you have further information or corrections to make on anything that you see below.
Software Defined Networking Ecoystem
Arista – I was close to not putting them in this first picture, but with the recent announcement of their 7124FX that has a programmable ASIC/FPGA, it was hard not to. While some may not see this as SDN, customers can write directly to the ASIC as they wish, which is pretty slick, and definitely the start of something big. While they are being extra cautious saying that this switch is not for everyone, for those that embrace it, it could fit nicely into an SDN strategy.
Big Switch – startup in stealth mode working on an OpenFlow/SDN controller with associated apps layered on top. They seem to be focused on the Enterprise in Private/Hybrid Cloud environments.
ConteXtream – I’m not too familiar with these guys. I wanted to actually put them between Applications and Controllers in the picture, but in order to stick to the design of the ecosystem, I put them in both tiers. They seem to be working on a software virtualization layer that will reside TOR rather than in the hypervisor like others are focusing on. Since they are going after the network virtualization market, there must be a way to centrally manage all ConteXtream nodes and manage flows, so I’m seeing this as a controller, with what’s running on their controller as an application for network virtualization. It is unknown at this time if they are doing anything with OpenFlow.
Embrane – focused on a next generation architecture for delivering distributed and on-demand L4-7 services. You can get your services from Embrane or integrate 3rd party L4-7 services onto the Embrane architecture. Initial focus is public Cloud providers, but the technology seems to compelling to not make it to the Enterprise in private cloud environments in the short term.
HP – OpenFlow enabled switches.
IBM – OpenFlow enabled switches. Announced a partnership with NEC to offer a "solution."
Juniper – have announced putting OpenFlow in the JunOS SDK and the ability to run Open vSwitch on the MX series routers. Couldn't confirm this was possible, so there is a chance they should be in the picture below, but please feel free to confirm if you know for sure.
NEC – the only company today with products shipping in all three tiers in the SDN ecosystem. They have it all from network switches, an OpenFlow Controller, and applications on top to virtualize cloud environments.
NetGear – OpenFlow enabled switches.
Nicira – OpenFlow/SDN controllers focused on hyper scale environments. They also lead the development of the open source virtual switch platform, Open vSwitch.
Open vSwitch (OVS) – as stated, this is the open source virtual switch platform. De facto standard for XenServer and much of the development is currently done by Nicira.
Pica8 – recently re-branded itself now as a hardware and software company. They provide OpenFlow switches via Pronto based on OVS.
Future Players of SDN Ecosystem
vArmour Networks – not clear on what they are working on, but seems to be focused on DPI security for network virtualization. I’m sure we’ll see more of them at the ONS in a few weeks.
Brocade – currently testing OpenFlow enabled code on their CER and MLXe routers. It was publicly tested just a few weeks ago.
Cisco – time will tell what these guys are really up to. They have committed to supporting OpenFlow on the Nexus 3000s. There is talks on a Cisco spin-in, Insieme, that would be developing next generation hardware and software for Cisco to compete in the SDN space.
Cumulus Networks – seem to be focused on brokering deals for large web scale companies, who need switches very cheap and who are capable of developing their own software or using open source software, with Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) companies in China. Buying ODM replaces the middle man, i.e. the "traditional networking companies" like the Brocade’s, Extreme’s, and Dell’s of the world and whoever else uses off the shelf silicon. They may also be developing their own software to run on the switches they are procuring for their clients, but that is pure speculation.
Dell – they’ve stated the network needs to evolve and SDN is the future of networking with the separation of the control and data planes of traditional switches. Would expect to see more announcements from Dell/Force10 this year.
Extreme – publicly stated OpenFlow is running on their BlackDiamond Switches at the University of Massachusetts. Don’t think that code is publicly available yet tough.
Ericsson – actively working on supporting MPLS with OpenFlow called OpenFlowMPLS.
Linerate Systems – might be working on high performance L4-7 services, but could be much more than that.
Plexxi – not sure what they are working on, but likely another innovative way to accomplish real network virtualization.
Vyatta – fairly well known with a growing customer base. Get your traditional network device deployed as a Vyatta physical or virtual appliance. I’d expect to see these get OpenFlow-enabled as they’ve been looking for software engineers with experience with OpenFlow/SDN.
As always, please feel free to contact me or comment below if you have further information on any of the stealth companies listed above or if I need to correct anything I've said throughout the post. And, if I've missed any company that should be on these lists, let me know!