THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Lumina Networks, the company that purchased Brocade’s SDN controller, is partnering with NoviFlow, a vendor of OpenFlow-based switching, to offer an alternative to MPLS-based networks.
They’re calling their joint product a software-defined core (SD-core). The companies say it will enable network operators to evolve their core networks to SDN and white box hardware, gradually weaning off proprietary MPLS routers.
The Lumina Networks and NoviFlow SD-core distributes the forwarding and control planes into separate elements. This allows network providers to adopt white box switches but keep their existing core router vendor.
“We are purely at the forwarding plane,” said Dominique Jodoin, president and CEO of NoviFlow. The company has been doing OpenFlow forwarding plane software for several years. “Our white box — thanks to our software and chips — is fully programmable,” said Jodoin.
“We’re able to support the Tofino chip from Barefoot,” said Jodoin, adding that he’ll be talking about the P4 language at this week’s SDN and NFV World Congress in The Netherlands.
NoviFlow’s OpenFlow forwarding plane software — NoviWare — supports all OpenFlow 1.3 and 1.4 actions, instructions, and match fields, along with key OpenFlow 1.5 features.
For its part, Lumina Network’s SDN controller manages the control plane, while working with the network’s legacy routing software to integrate with existing network nodes. Interfaces for provisioning, service assurance, and operational tasks are made available via REST APIs and can be integrated with orchestrators to support TOSCA NFV service definitions.
The joint solution is built to allow the gradual migration of MPLS services to SDN infrastructure.
“One thing that has remained static is the MPLS core at the heart of service provider and data center networks,” said Andrew Coward, CEO of Lumina Networks. “It’s about a $3.2 billion market, remarkably impervious to disruption. We were able to put together a solution using the Lumina controller combined with NoviFlow to start disrupting that market. The solution comes in at about 40 percent of the cost of the traditional MPLS core router.”
“The alliance between Lumina and NoviFlow provides a compelling new solution for MPLS and segment routing, extending the benefits of SDN/OpenFlow beyond the network’s edge and into the spine and core,” said Jodoin.
The companies are not advocating customers to rip and replace existing MPLS core routers, however. Their pitch is to cap investment in MPLS and slowly migrate to the SD-core. As customers try the software on non-mission critical traffic, they can gain confidence in the approach.
“The two networks work hand in hand together,” said Coward. “It gets them into this SDN world without risking the network. This is something you can do today, it doesn’t require massive engineering of your entire world.”