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Network switches go open

August 10, 2010

Enabling innovation in your network

OpenFlow: a novel way, or an open standard, for researchers to try out experimental protocols in production networks they or we are using every day.


OpenFlow provides a standard way to control flow-tables in commercial switches and routers. Proposed by a joint research force from Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Rutgers, UC Berkeley, UW, WUSTL, OpenFlow is supported by the Stanford Clean Slate Program, which has received $10M from NSF and support from the governments of China and Korea, and others. From the industry side, it is rarely seen that IT giants like Broadcom, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, HP, Juniper, NEC, NTT DOCOMO, Xilinx, etc, are all tied together in such a synergy. For instance, Ericsson Research is working to support MPLS with OpenFlow. Current hardware models supporting OpenFlow include Quanta LB4G, Broadcom 56634, Broadcom 56820. OpenFlow and OpenRoads (or wireless OpenFlow) have been deployed to part of Stanford’s campus network (e.g., OpenRoads in the School of Engineering building with WiFi and WiMAX).

In a word, one great thing about OpenFlow is that it allows researchers to deploy and test their experimental protocols (e.g., a routing protocol) on a production network without requiring vendors to expose the internal workings of their network devices; non-experimental traffic will not be affected, and security mechanisms are there.

Nick McKeown: the Stanford EECS professor who is leading the OpenFlow project, and who is reinventing the internet.

Nick McKeown

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