Learn more about Cisco OpFlex and what it means for the company’s software-defined networking (SDN) strategy. Here you’ll learn about OpFlex’s development, use cases, and other helpful insight on Cisco OpFlex.
Today’s data centers are home to a broad range of Layer 4-7 services, orchestration platforms, and automation tools – all from different vendors. But as software development processes merge with IT operations, traditional ways of managing such complex infrastructures are impeding rather than helping fast application deployment.
To help make the network more agile, Cisco developed a declarative model for its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software-defined networking (SDN) environment. Rather than centralize network control functions on the controller as most SDN architectures do, ACI uses the OpFlex southbound API to communicate policies between the controller and various network devices.
In this white paper, “Cisco OpFlex: An Open Source Approach,” the company outlines how Cisco OpFlex both furthers and occupies the heart of the Cisco’s open source efforts. ACI’s declarative model uses OpFlex to apply high-level, abstract policies across devices, no matter which vendor they come from. The devices — which include physical and virtual switches, routers, and Layer 4-7 network services — then render and enforce the policies locally.
Until OpFlex, there was no standard protocol to communicate policy between controllers and devices. Cisco now is working to establish OpFlex as an open protocol through a couple fronts: 1) a standardization effort in the IETF, and 2) development of an abstract policy model and reference implementation in the open source community.
As highlighted in the white paper, the company submitted the standards-based OpFlex protocol to the IETF as an informational RFC (request for comments) to establish OpFlex as a reference implementation. The paper also looks at Cisco’s open source efforts with the controller-side OpFlex implementation in OpenDaylight, and a switch-side OpFlex agent for Open vSwitch.
Cisco believes the OpFlex open standards initiative will not only foster multivendor innovation, but also make data centers and cloud networks more simple, agile, and inexpensive to operate.