Pica8 brought white box switches and network virtualization a little closer together this week, announcing support for OVSDB, the protocol that creates overlay tunnels for VMware‘s NSX and Midokura‘s MidoNet, among other platforms.
The announcement, which came on Wednesday, isn’t a technological leap for Pica8. Rather, it’s a way to tout white boxes, powered by Pica8’s operating system, as suitable tunneling endpoints.
OVSDB is what MidoNet, NSX, and other platforms use to create overlay tunnels based on the VXLAN protocol. These overlays are the heart of network virtualization, acting as temporary network connections for groups of endpoints — switches, essentially, which in this case get called VXLAN termination endpoints (VTEPs). Pica8 and Cumulus are offering up white box switches as VTEP candidates.
Another way to put it: MidoNet and NSX need a hardware assist. VMware’s 2013 launch of NSX came with several switch vendors announced as partners; without their presence, the launch would have lacked a real-world edge.
It’s fun to think of MidoNet or NSX being powered by armies of white boxes. But the use case Pica8 is emphasizing is a smaller-scale deployment — a trial or proof-of-concept as a way to test out network virtualization.