Introducing Open Networking

Setting the Stage for Software Defined Networking (SDN)

You've heard the terms by now: Software Defined Networking, Open Networking, white-box, revolutionary. How does Pica8® reel in these buzzwords, and present them as ideas actualized? What exactly do "SDN," "open" and "white box" imply?

We'll keep it short. Software-defined networking is the abstraction of the network data plane (hardware) from the control plane (software), enabling you to address all network services through external programming interfaces. Network services are not strictly associated with specific physical devices. Reconfiguring devices becomes much easier, and costs are slashed because you no longer have to purchase everything from the same proprietary vendor.

Open Networking and SDN

You can't have a software-defined network without an open network: one that features a common hardware-software abstraction protocol (OpenFlow), so that a centralized software controller can program any and all parts of your network fabric. Open networking, in other words, is what makes SDN possible.

To get a better sense of the word "open", think about what's transpired on the server side of the industry. Servers were virtualized years ago, and today you can build your own computer with your "white box" (commoditized) bare-metal server of choice, then add whatever components and OS you'd like. One physical server can host multiple virtual environments.

Now apply this idea of "open" to the switching industry, and an "open switch" should have the following characteristics:

  • The operating system is not tied to any specific hardware platform (like the Android operating system on smartphones)
  • Switching hardware has matured to where "white box'' switches are readily available and leveraged, instead of expensive, proprietary custom hardware and software
  • The switch can be programmed or customized to any environment, and isn't locked into specific vendors' tools and hooks
  • The switch must be adaptable to new protocols without interfering with existing protocol support, similar to what Microsoft and Red Hat in the Linux world have achieved

In response, Pica8 offers the first open switching platform, aimed at driving down costs, by providing a consistent operations and management framework

Introducing Open Networking


Pica8's open system:

  • Is the only hardware-agnostic switching platform, in which we leverage white box bare-metal switch manufacturers, including Accton and Quanta Computer, as our strategic partners to drastically reduce your CAPEX
  • Supports Industry-leading OpenFlow 1.4 through Open vSwitch (OVS) v2.0 integration; OVS runs as a process within Pica8's operating system, providing an OpenFlow interface for external programmability and setting the stage for SDN
  • Expands your ability to program and personalize the network fabric, with our Debian Linux open network operating system
Pica8 offers full support services for both software and hardware.See how our switches create the open data center framework, and learn more about white box economics