Google, SDN, and Open Source

Last week, Google made a huge announcement in the world of software-defined networking.  They had in fact built their own OpenFlow-based SDN (including their own custom networking gear) and were using it to manage all of their production WAN traffic.  Google’s SDN enabled it to implement a global bandwidth management and traffic engineering system, saving money on bandwidth and hardware.  

For a company very secretive of its infrastructure, Google took a major step in support of the growing OpenFlow and SDN ecosystems.  They immediately dispelled any myths and concerns about the maturity of SDN  and made it clear that real, reliable software-defined networks were managing production traffic in one of the most complex infrastructure environments in the world.  This is a huge boost to the SDN ecosystem.

Google actually made a second important announcement very recently that didn’t make quite as many headlines.  A strong of supporter open source, Google announced that it would sponsor three student developers for Floodlight, an Apache-licensed OpenFlow controller, through its Google Summer of Code program.  One project will focus on building a multi-path routing application, another will build an OpenFlow-based firewall, and the third will create an integration between FlowVisor and Floodlight.  As a contributor to Floodlight and proponent of open architectures in software-defined networking, I’m thrilled to see Google take an active, public role in the development of open source OpenFlow technology.  Since its launch in January, Floodlight has gained tremendous traction in the open source community, garnering over 4000 downloads.  Of course, we’re hoping with the help of Google, my coworkers at Big Switch, and the broader OpenFlow community, we can create an open platform that lets everyone build Google-scale SDN solutions.

– Mike Cohen

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