Alcatel-Lucent has finally started to support two key technologies for creating software defined networks in its switches.

The company said Tuesday that its stackable OmniSwitch 6900 Layer 2/3 switches will now support the OpenFlow 1.3 protocol for separating the packet forwarding and control paths.

The switches will also support the OpenStack networking technology called Neutron for creating networking as a service. OpenStack is an open source framework for creating public and private clouds. Neutron, which is included in the Folsom release, connects devices like virtual NICs managed by OpenStack.

The capabilities are available through a free software upgrade to the OmniSwitch operating system.

Also on Tuesday Alcatel said it is releasing new 12-port expansion module for the OmniSwitch 6900 which supports FiberChannel and FiberChannel over Ethernet interfaces. The capability will help organizations consolidate storage traffic, Khawaja said.

Perhaps more importantly the company released use cases with partner products for software-defined networking (SDN) in the enterprise.  Khurram Khawaja, Alcatel’s director of data centre product management, agreed in an interview that a lack of practical use cases from vendors about the advantages of SDN has been inhibiting organizations from seriously exploring the potential of the technology.

By comparison service providers are eagerly looking into SDN.

SDN makes networks programmable so they automatically respond to different traffic flows or applications.

In one use case Alcatel says OpenFlow enabled OmniSwitches linked to a wireless controller from Aruba Networks can dynamically route Wi-Fi traffic for better performance.

Married to Radware Ltd.’s DefensePro intrusion protection appliance, an OminSwitch can automatically create an enforce a new security policy when suspicious traffic is detected.

Finally, Alcatel [NYSE: ALU] says the programmable interface of SDN helps enforce consistent policies as storage and data networks converge.

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