OpenFlow is an interface that enables software-defined networks (SDN), in which multivendor switches and routers are programmable through software on servers. OpenFlow provides a layer of abstraction from the physical network to the control element, allowing that network to be configured or manipulated through the software, which then opens it up to further customization, proponents says.
It’s been pitched as a key element to enabling flexibility required in large data centers and in cloud computing environments. Other observers, though, are hard pressed to find applicability for OpenFlow and SDNs in the enterprise.
Juniper rival Cisco Systems Inc. is currently considering how to respond to OpenFlow and its momentum. Cisco says it is adding OpenFlow to its Nexus switches. But some believe that OpenFlow and SDNs may further commoditize network hardware, which would squeeze Cisco’s and other vendors’ profits on equipment sales and diminish the proprietary value of software.
Adding OpenFlow to the Junos SDK is intended make Juniper’s routers and switches programmable through software. The Junos SDK allows developers to build custom applications on top of Junos to expand or create additional functionality on Juniper switches and routers.
The OpenFlow application works with Junos to change the control plane of those switches and routers to create more dynamic network programmability, Juniper says. This will simplify control of network devices and allow more rapid development of applications and capabilities across the network infrastructure, the company says.
Juniper demonstrated the OpenFlow protocol running on its MX 3D edge routers at the Carrier Ethernet World Congress and presented at last week’s Open Networking Summit at Stanford University. Juniper is a founding member of the Open Networking Foundation, an organization of users, vendors and service providers evangelizing OpenFlow and SDNs, and plans to participate in this week’s Applied OpenFlow Symposium in San Jose.