Introducing Indigo Virtual Switch (IVS)

Back in March, we announced the 2nd generation Indigo project. Indigo is an open source project aimed at enabling vendors to support OpenFlow on physical and hypervisor switches.  To date, Big Switch has helped numerous companies bring OpenFlow-enabled equipment to the marketplace, ushering in the new era of bare-metal switches.

ivs-diagram-1At Big Switch, our product strategy includes both commercial product releases, as well as an open source release to provide software for use in trial, development and academic environments. So today I’m happy to announce forward progress using the Indigo technology to create free and open source solutions for both physical and virtual switches.

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Introducing Project Floodlight

Contributed by Paul Lappas, Head of Open Source @ Big Switch Networks.

I’m incredibly happy to announce some really exciting things that are happening in open source at Big Switch Networks. Today we announced the launch of a commercial version of Indigo Agent, which is a fully deployable thin switching software platform called Switch Light, and a revamped open source site: In this posting I wanted to explain how we got here and why we are making these changes.


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Demo: OpenFlow enabled network card

Contributed by Eli Karpilovski, Senior Manager, Cloud @ Mellanox (

I’m excited to showcase the results of a demo we put together leveraging the Floodlight controller and our new OpenFlow-enabled NIC. This particular demo enables extraction of network information to detect and protect against security threats in real-time for a more resilient and cost-effective mobile network.

The demo uses the following technologies:

Click to Enlarge

  • Radware Application Delivery and Attack Mitigation Security
  • Mellanox 10G and 40G embedded virtual switch (eSwitch) NIC
  • Floodlight SDN controller

Combining these technologies illustrates an innovative ability to extract network and application information that can be translated and leveraged to a scalable solution for detection of various security threats, in real-time.

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Nah Mate, That Ain’t A Controller… THIS is a Controller

Contributed by Rob Sherwood – CTO of Controller Technologies at Big Switch Networks.

I’m hearing more and more about SDN “controllers” these days.

Tech Execs at big networking companies are talking about delivering controllers in coming years. And I still see interesting projects emerging from academic institutions. Even Lua students can now experiment with OpenFlow controllers. In general, this is a good thing and I’m happy to see it.

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SDN Use Case: Multipath TCP at Caltech and CERN

“Everything is getting better with Moore’s Law, but some things are getting better faster than others.”

— Kenneth Church, “The Mobility Gap”


Almost everyone has heard of Moore’s law, which states that CPU processing power goes up by about 100x per decade.  Fewer of us have heard of Kryder’s Law, ie the “Moore’s Law of storage” – it says that we can expect a 1000x increase in disk capacity per decade.  And even fewer have heard of Nielsen’s Law for networking – which only claims a 256x increase of bandwidth capacity in the workplace over the same period.


In short: bandwidth rates aren’t keeping up – in a large part due to limitations of the speed of light. It is this gap in improvement in storage and bandwidth density that Mr Church coined the “mobility gap”. How big is the gap?  Roughly 4X – 18x over each decade. Which doesn’t seem that bad until you also consider the “digital universe” problem which says that AMOUNT of global data is 44x time what is was in 2009 by 2020.

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Open Source and Floodlight: The Biggest Opportunity for SDN

In a recent post on SDNCentral titled “Open Source: The Biggest Risk to SDN”, the author attempts to define the various types of open source business models, including how value is created for users and partners within an open source ecosystem.  He described some risks facing partners and users when they are considering adopting code from “single-vendor” projects, specifically calling out the Floodlight and Indigo projects, which are supported in large part by Big Switch. And then he posits a scenario wherein Big Switch is acquired by  a competitor with a poor open source track record (think: golden gate bridge, and switches and routers).

The author takes the position that single-vendor poses a risk to SDN adoption as a whole by concluding that users and partners should be very wary of using Floodlight & Indigo code because it is very likely that Cisco may very well acquire Big Switch and thus close the project down.

While I’m a reader of SDNCentral, I believe that the author misses the point entirely. Continue reading »

Announcing Floodlight v0.90

We are pleased to announce the release of Floodlight 0.90!  The 0.90  release consists of new controller REST APIs, new applications, bug fixes, a new test framework and contribution guideline, and a completely revamped documentation wiki.

Ubuntu 12.10.  Floodlight is now available in the Ubuntu repository and can be installed via “apt-get install floodlight”
New Applications
  • CircuitPusher, a python-based REST application, uses Floodlight’s REST API to setup a circuit between two IP hosts.  Includes new REST APIs.
  • Firewall, a java module application, provides controller-based stateless ACL support.
  • Integration Test Framework & Suite. Big Switch is open sourcing a test framework called “Floodlight-Test” to allow developers to easily develop and run integration tests. From release 0.90 and on, all developer contributions are required to have accompanied unit tests, integration tests, and documentation.
  • Revamped Documentation. A new docs site with a new structure for more efficient access to user and developer oriented information. New tutorials/guides are provided to assist in every stage of the usage and development process.  Specific instructions are also given in the wiki to describe a contribution process and a jira-based feature/bug tracking system.



Preview of Indigo v2.0 and LOXI

The Big Switch team has been working overtime to develop a new version of the popular Indigo project. Indigo is an OpenFlow firmware agent for physical switches, and info on the current version can be found on

In version 2, we extend the framework to make it easy to support new versions of OpenFlow, as well as:

  • a HAL abstraction layer to make it easy to integrate with the forwarding and port management interfaces of physical- or virtual- switches
  • a configuration abstraction layer to support running OpenFlow in a “hybrid” mode on your switch
  • LOXI – a marshalling/un-marshalling engine that generates OpenFlow libraries in multiple languages. Currently it generates C, but Java and Python are coming soon.

Indigo 2 will be officially released into open source later this year under the Apache version 2.0 license.  Until then, we are working hard to shore up documentation and update the web site. If you wish to see the code sooner than that (like now), please send your github ID to and we’ll provide you with early access.

Want to learn more?  Following these links to download a recent deep-dive performed by Dan Talayco and Rob Sherwood over the web.

Webinar Slides

Webinar Video + Audio

To stay up to date on the launch, be sure to subscribe to the indigo-announce and indigo-dev mailing lists by following these links:

Floodlight Use Case: Software-Defined Storage

Our friends at Coraid used Floodlight to demo a Software-defined-storage use case at this year’s VMWorld 2012 in San Francisco.

Alok Rishi, Coraid’s Chief Software Architect, showed how one could use Floodlight’s v0.85 REST APIs, controlled programmatically via the Ethercloud orchestration stack, to dynamically create isolated data flow paths end-to-end:  through the Coraid storage targets, through the Coraid initiator, then onto the VM.

We are especially excited about this demo because:

* the integration combines both virtual switches (OVS + Xen) and physical switches (openflow-enabled Arista)

* EtherCloud is controlling Floodlight entirely through REST APIs.

* the entire demo was set up in just a few days

* the demo also showcased the Avior Floodlight GUI application written by Jason Parraga

This is just one example of creating value by combining SDN controller + cloud orchestration stacks + storage +  OpenFlow enabled switches. We would love to hear more examples and ideas from you.

A block diagaram of the setup can be seen here:


Here is Alok performing the demo at VMWworld:


From left: Mike Cohen (Big Switch), Alok Rishi (Chief Architect, Coraid), Paul Lappas (Big Switch), Doug Dooley (VP Product @ Coraid)



Floodlight Update

My colleague Mike Cohen has done an amazing job growing and evangelizing Floodlight since  launch earlier this year. I wanted to relay some of the notable facts are:

  • Over 6,000 downloads since January 2012
  • A Google search on “floodlight” returns this project as the first natural result
  • Downloaded by IBM, Arista Networks, Brocade, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Juniper Networks, Citrix and Microsoft.

To continue Floodlight’s meteoric growth, we will be spending the next few months focusing on tools and processes to promote quality and collaboration:

Testing Framework

The goal here is to target 100% automated test coverage of the project by releasing a good test execution framework and set of automated tests.  This is so that when you add a change you can be sure that your new code didn’t break existing functionality, and fix any problems before you submit a pull request to get your changes in. Of course this means that you as a developer will also need to check in a test with your changes.

Better transparency

In what features are proposed, features being worked on, and the scope of the next few releases (roadmap). As someone with a background in delivering large scale projects on time and budget, I know how important it is to have visibility into what’s working and what’s coming. This is so that potential developers know where they are needed most

Coding style and standards

Obviously important that we can set up guidelines for implementation so that the code base can grow in a way that is well understood and sane.

And much more to come!