With the announcement today of an overall software-defined networking (SDN) strategy, Extreme Networks joins Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and IBM in the race to redefine the relationship between enterprise networks and the applications that run on top of them.
While the immediate benefit of an SDN is that it makes it easier to manage multiple networks at a higher level of abstraction, the more compelling long-term benefit is that it makes the network programmable from the perspective of an application developer.
According to Shehzad Merchant, vice president of technology for Extreme Networks, giving developers fine-grain control over elements of the network is going to be a critical capability when it comes to developing cloud computing applications that are by definition latency-sensitive.
Beyond supporting the emerging OpenFlow management standard on its switches and controllers from NEC and BigSwitch, Extreme Networks is rolling out a plug-in for OpenStack to manage network switches using the OpenStack Quantum APIs. In addition, a new Web portal called xKIT is being created to foster collaborative SDN application development.
Merchant concedes that it will take a while for standards to congeal to the point where developers will be able to dynamically invoke network resources, but progress on SDN technologies is being made. In the meantime, Merchant says IT organizations should start thinking of the network more in terms of having a programmable control plane that is going to more tightly couple users, devices and applications across a network fabric of compute resources that can be dynamically invoked at almost any time.