Earlier this year I wrote about a new concept called software-defined networking, which uses the OpenFlow programming interface to virtualize network resources. On Wednesday a startup hoping to leverage the technology called Big Switch Networks, announced its Controller has moved into private beta testing. However, it didn't say how long the product will stay in beta.

In a news release the Palo Alto, Calif. company said the Controller virtualizes the network in the enterprise data centre, making it possible for an enterprise to overlay virtual networks on top of their physical devices. Individual users and applications will able to take control of different parts of the same network, creating a multi-tenancy model for managing enterprise networks, the company said. Each of these internal tenants could then manage their own software-defined network rather than managing the underlying physical network, and operate each one of these virtual networks like one big virtual switch.

In the company's mind a network would be comprised of its Controller (a software platform that implements the server side of the OpenFlow protocol, virtualizes the physical resources in the network and provides common components used across OpenFlow Applications; OpenFlow Applications, which will be network control applications built on an the Controller's open API that represent a tenant's software-defined devices and features, such as virtual switches, virtual firewalls or connectors to server virtualization software; and OpenFlow-enabled switches from Ethernet switch makers that implement the client side of the OpenFlow protocol.

We'll post updates on the progress of this technology.

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Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com