OpenFlow on Hyper-V Finally Arrives with NEC’s New PF1000
Summary: NEC’s new virtual switch brings Hyper-V closer to being an acceptable alternative to VMware.
In a potentially game changing move, NEC today announced their PF1000 virtual switch that runs on Microsoft’s Hyper-V. The new PF1000 virtual switch from NEC plugs right into Hyper-V and provides OpenFlow 1.0 support. From the work we’ve been doing with enterprises and service providers, we’re hearing a lot more about Hyper-V lately–it’s becoming an acceptable alternative to VMware and we know of numerous places where Hyper-V is under re-evaluation as an alternate standard to VMware. With this move, NEC has brought to the table a commercially-supported OpenFlow-enabled virtual switch, a definite boost in the arm for Microsoft and Hyper-V.
This means that of the 4 major hypervisors in the marketplace (VMware, Hyper-V, XEN, KVM), 3 of them now have options for built-in OpenFlow support (via Open vSwitch and NECs PF1000). On VMware, the only OpenFlow support possible today is the workaround that Nicira had provided of hosting a VM with OVS inside it on ESX. It’ll be interesting to see if this announcement spurs on Microsoft or some other members of the community to get OVS working on Hyper-V, especially given that it’s unclear and unlikely that VMware/Nicira will contribute substantially to this effort.
The specifications for the new switch are look good and scale up to more than what many enterprises or service providers need:
|Supported Platform||Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition|
|OpenFlow Version||OpenFlow Spec 1.0|
|Maximum Virtual Switches||256 switches per server|
|Maximum Ports||1280 ports per virtual switch
(total of VMNIC, VNIC, physical NIC)
|Maximum Virtual Ports||VMNIC 1280 ports/VNIC 1 port per virtual switch|
|Maximum Physical Ports||8 ports per virtual switch|
|Maximum Flow Entry||260,000 flows (~5KB memory/flow entry)|
The PF1000 is designed for deployment with NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller (PFC), as well as other physical switches from NEC (ProgrammableFlow Switches models PF5240 and PF5820). When coupled with those and the Quantum plugin for OpenStack, NEC is able to build flexible virtual multi-tenant networks for large cloud service providers looking to provide their customers with configurable virtual private networks. With the PF1000, NEC supports VM mobility, automatically detecting VM migration and reprogramming the OpenFlow rules to ensure seamless traffic migration to the new location.
Furthermore, NEC’s physical switches today can be deployed as PODs, allowing VLAN re-use between PODs and removing the 4K VLAN limit—we would expect the virtual switch to follow. The NEC SDN solution also provides QoS support as well as IPv6 capabilities (for filtering, bridging and virtual routing). NEC also rolled out an early customer that has deployed the PF1000, Edgenet—a product datafeed company focused on the B2B marketplace. Edgenet has deployed the PF1000 in conjunction with physical switches in a Hyper-V environment to provide converged network management and improved network utilization.
The PF1000 will be available as a download from both NECs and Microsoft’s websites. Management of the PF1000 is bundled in with the ProgrammableFlow controller (PFC), list price for the PFC starts at $14,800 for a 10-switch license.
What this means:
- Hyper-V users and evaluators now have a viable commercial option for a commercially-supported virtual switch with OpenFlow 1.0 support. Enterprise and service-provider customers should take a serious look at the Hyper-V/NEC combination for private and even public cloud deployments.
- NEC is now one of the few players with a complete ecosystem on the SDN front – controller, physical switches, virtual switches, and partnerships for L4-7 solutions. NEC’s partner IBM (with which they have cross-licensing arrangements with) has a similar set of offerings, but IBM’s DV-5000 virtual switch, which can be deployed in VMware ESX, does not yet support OpenFlow.
- With NEC’s move, we’ll probably see further progress on OVS on Hyper-V, and we will be closely watching VMware/Nicira’s response—they have yet to come out in the open about their virtual networking roadmap.
The original press release follows:
NEC to deliver OpenFlow-enabled Software Defined Network for Windows Server Hyper-V environments
ProgrammableFlow® Version 4 offers first OpenFlow IPv6-ready network
Irving, Texas – January 22, 2013 – NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a leading provider and integrator of advanced IT, networking, communications, biometric, and Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions, announced the general availability of the ProgrammableFlow PF1000, a virtual switch providing SDN and complete network virtualization to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V customers. NEC also introduced a new version of its award- winning ProgrammableFlow® Controller, now with the world’s first OpenFlow IPv6 support.
The ProgrammableFlow PF1000 is a virtual switch for Windows Server 2012 customers, simplifying complex networks and integrating server and network virtualization with a single control plane for the Windows Server Hyper-V customer. This integration enables advanced network automation, rapid delivery of network services, easy VM mobility, and consistent application of business policy across the network.
“As a cornerstone of the Cloud OS platform, Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V bring groundbreaking capabilities such as network virtualization to the private cloud customer,” said Mike Schutz, General Manager, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft. “We are committed to working with strategic ecosystem members such as NEC to build on Windows Server 2012’s performance, scalability and manageability. The NEC SDN solution is compatible with Hyper-V Network Virtualization and allows for easy configuration of virtual appliances such as load balancers, intrusion detection systems, and networking monitoring solutions.”
Edgenet, Inc. manages and distributes product information for over 4,000 companies, 8000 brands and 6,000,000+ products. Edgenet is an early adopter of the ProgrammableFlow Network Suite, including the PF1000 virtual switch, which acts as an extension to its Windows Server Hyper-V solution.
According to Mike Steineke, Edgenet Vice President of IT, “The NEC ProgrammableFlow switch and controller for Hyper-V allows Edgenet to not only improve network service delivery by having a single control plane across the entire physical and virtual Microsoft environment, it allows us to increase our network utilization levels without concern of service level disruption and realize a truly converged network infrastructure affordably.”
The ProgrammableFlow Controller is Open SDN software for virtualizing and automating networks. Ideally suited for corporate and service provider data centers, ProgrammableFlow Controller provides a cost-effective, high- performance, highly scalable SDN platform. No other solution can provide virtual L2 and L3 networks with Quality of Service (QoS) and IPv6 support across an OpenFlow enabled switch fabric. The ProgrammableFlow Controller is designed so that organizations can rapidly deploy, easily manage, and remotely control networks while saving space, management effort, and hardware costs. The results are optimal flexibility and manageability, and much lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
The new Version 4 of the ProgrammableFlow Controller includes:
- IPv6 support to help customers move beyond the limitations of IPv4 addresses, simultaneously positioning the network and business for the future with a virtualized, programmable network. NEC is the only SDN provider to offer IPv6 support.
- OpenStack® support, which gives ProgrammableFlow Open SDN customers a common platform that is dynamic, flexible, scalable and open. OpenStack Folsom and the OpenFlow protocol used in ProgrammableFlow networks combine for a unified cloud solution to manage all IT resources.
- REST-based northbound API offers an integrated interface to enable programmability of the entire network for service agility and network control. This network-level API enables uniform application and automation of consistent business policy.“SDN promises to remake networking, delivering unprecedented network virtualization and rich application-driven programmability and agility” said Rohit Mehra, VP Network Infrastructure at analyst firm IDC Corporation. “NEC has demonstrated great leadership in OpenFlow-based SDN with its ProgrammableFlow networking technology, which provides full-function benefits to IT organizations looking for the next generation of networking.”
“ProgrammableFlow provides the state-of-the-art for Software Defined Networks,” states Don Clark, Director of Business Development at NEC. “For organizations looking for automation and control over their network, and for those looking for easy integration into their existing environment, ProgrammableFlow is the right choice.”
More information on NEC ProgrammableFlow SDN can be found at www.necam.com/pflow.