Dell Proposes Open Network Switch Interface

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    At the Open Compute Project (OCP) U.S. 2015 summit this week, Dell unveiled a Switch Abstraction Interface that is intended to make it simpler to invoke Ethernet switches.

    Subi Krishnamurthy, CTO of Dell Networking, says Dell is proposing that the time has come for the industry as a whole to agree on a common application programming interface (API) between switches and network operating systems.

    Krishnamurthy says the time has finally come when there is enough industry momentum behind open networking to create support for a common switch interface across multiple vendors. The Dell Switch Abstraction Interface is intended to accelerate the adoption of open networking that seeks to separate network operating systems from underlying commodity network infrastructure. To that end, Krishnamurthy says Microsoft, Broadcom, Intel, Mellanox and Facebook have all expressed support for the initiative.

    Of course, open networking initiatives have yet to find any support from Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard, another proponent of open networking technologies, has yet to throw its weight behind an initiative led by Dell.

    Nevertheless, Dell remains committed to an open networking strategy that has seen it partner with Cumulus Networks, Big Switch Networks and Midokura to deploy network operating systems and software-defined networking (SDN) software on top of switches based on commodity processors rather than proprietary ASICs. In addition to those three partners, Krishnamurthy promised there will be more to follow.

    Obviously, it may take a while for approaches to open networking to usurp proprietary architectures. But Krishnamurthy says given the fact that customers are now looking to move to more programmable networking infrastructure that is also more likely to be upgraded more frequently, the economic benefits make open networking all but inevitable.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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