Open SDN architectures leverage an industry standard data plane abstraction protocol, like OpenFlow, which provide direct access to the data plane hardware and forwarding flow tables -- not just a CLI proxy mechanism. And, OpenFlow can operate across a variety of physical and virtual switches, as well as vendor architectures. As a result, it is now possible for an Open SDN controller to program and automate a multi-vendor network using standard software protocols, like OpenFlow and RESTful APIs. Importantly, network virtualization becomes just one of many applications possible with an open SDN architecture.
As customers consider moving toward SDN they will need to consider what functional and architectural benefits best meet their needs. Does a pure tunnel-oriented virtualization architecture meet their scalability and broader application needs? Is a proprietary network architecture acceptable? Or, do they want to evolve toward an open architecture comparable to what they experience today in the server world?
These and other questions should customers help guide their decision-making process in the powerful new era of software-defined networking.
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