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!

Doubling-down on OpenFlow

I’m incredibly happy to announce that I’ve joined to help lead our efforts around open source, including Floodlight, the world’s only apache-licensed SDN controller, and Indigo, an OpenFlow agent for physical switches.

First, a little bit about me:

In 2006 I co-founded and ran engineering and operations for GoGrid ( , one of the world’s first cloud computing service providers. After growing GoGrid to span two continents and service over 10,000 enterprise users using only open-source tools (and what was at the time the second largest Xen deployment next to Amazon EC2) I decided to refocus my efforts on where I saw most of the adoption of cloud would be happening:  private deployments inside of enterprises providing automated self-service to internal development and IT groups.  I ended up helping Piston Cloud ( – who was building a distribution of OpenStack – bring their product to market, until my friend Kyle Forster @ Big Switch told me that he was looking for someone to help grow out their open source efforts that include Floodlight and Indigo.

Now, I had been keeping my eye on OpenFlow and SDN since 2007 when Martin Casado pitched us his idea to connect virtual hosts via dynamically provisioned (what were then GRE) tunnels when we were trying to figure out how to scale the GoGrid network (we decided the technology was too immature). So my first reaction to Kyle was “why does Big Switch need an open source strategy?”. After all it’s no secret that it’s very difficult to make money selling open source technology. Not saying it’s impossible – obviously companies like Redhat have found the secret – but unless your market is gigantic and product is extremely easy to deploy and support, it becomes very difficult to turn a profit. And as a startup in the incredibly competitive enterprise infrastructure market and competing with a giant like Cisco, you could say I was “cautiously intrigued” by the idea.

I wanted to be sure that Big Switch was serious about doing what it takes to truly create a vibrant open source community – the most important attribute of which is a diverse set of contributors who are not dominated by one company or influenced by commercial interests.

After spending a few weeks with the team, a few things became obvious:

— Big Switch’s commercial products have an incredibly compelling value proposition (hint: it’s all about the Apps)
— Floodlight represents the “core” of the commercial product (that is still in Beta), and
— with Floodlight, we have the opportunity to define the de facto standard for controller APIs
— we have assembled the best engineering team for SDN in the world

I look forward to diving into this in much more detail as we become more public about our plans, but I can say that I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us, and what this means for developers and users of SDN technologies as we disrupt the world of network infrastructure.

You can reach me anytime at or email to the floodlight-developer group.

Avior, Open Source Floodlight GUI Released

I am proud to announce Avior,  an open source project developed by the Marist College/IBM Joint Study OpenFlow research team. Avior was designed to fill a void in the realm of floodlight administration while propelling the forward development of open source Floodlight applications. The application runs independently of the controller and communicates with the controller using the default restAPI.

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Introducing OpenStack and virtual network support for Floodlight

For anyone even remotely following cloud infrastructure, its been hard to avoid the collision of OpenStack, OpenFlow, and Software-Defined Networking.  In less than two years, OpenStack has grown to a community of over 180 companies and over 3000 active developers, offering Apache-licensed software for building public and private clouds.  Over the same two years, OpenFlow and SDN have seen similar growth.  The Floodlight controller has been downloaded over 5000 times since its launch in January and the Open Networking Summit this past April attracted over 900 attendees (with several hundred more on the waiting list).

Simultaneously, Quantum, a networking-as-a-service module, has emerged in the OpenStack ecosystem.  Quantum offers a plugin architecture through which multi-tenant virtual networking can be connected in OpenStack.  The new service has reached incubation status in the “Essex” release and will be promoted to being a core project in the “Folsom” release in several months.  In fact, a couple plugins offering open source SDN services, like Ryu, have begun to spring up as well.

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Erlang Solutions and InfoBlox Release an OpenFlow 1.2 Switch

Kudos to the folks at Erland Solutions and InfoBlox.  Today, they released an OpenFlow 1.2 compliant switch, code-named LINC, which as you might have guessed is written in Erlang.  The switch is offered under a the commercially friendly Apache 2.0 just like the Floodlight OpenFlow controller.  Erlang Solutions plans to offer professional services around the LINC switch and OpenFlow in general, including set-up, configuration, support and testing.

LINC is available at Check out the video of it in action.

As a member of the Floodlight team, I’m really excited to see future versions of OpenFlow begin appear in switch designs and we are also hard at work in bringing Floodlight (which currently supports OpenFlow 1.0) up to speed with these designs as well.

– Mike Cohen

An OpenFlow Programmable Patch Panel

Kudos to Dan Hersey, a systems engineer at Big Switch Networks, who recently set up a programmable patch panel using OpenFlow.  Its a creative and very useful way of taking advantage of open source tools like Floodlight and Indigo. He even went all the way and wrote an IPhone app that can push static flows to help manage the patch panel he built.  Awesome! Dan’s Article follows below.

When I started exploring the OpenFlow protocol I was struck by how fundamentally it could change networking.  OpenFlow truly provides a clean slate to correct the network mess we have created over the last 20 years. Solutions such as network virtualization, lawful intercept, network service insertion and other super cool (and highly desirable) concepts based on OpenFlow have garnered the most press but there is limitless possibilities.

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Interop 2012 OpenFlow Roundup

_MG_7695 At last year’s Interop Las Vegas, OpenFlow was the surprise sensation of the show. In fact, Network World went so far to argue that it could have been called the OpenFlow Show. We had high expectations for this year, and we were not disappointed. OpenFlow was everywhere at the show, whether as generally available products, demos or prototypes. It received (again) the “Best of Interop Award” and it was the elephant in the room during Cisco’s keynote. At the same time, the conversation around OpenFlow has changed. If last year was around hype and speculation, this year was around products, use cases and in a few cases customer success stories. Here is our list of OpenFlow related exhibits at Interop. If we are missing anything let us know in the comments.

Arista – At the Arista booth, there was a joint demo together with Big Switch Networks to showcase Network Virtualization using OpenFlow. Several of Arista’s 7050 Switches were used to create virtual networks leveraging both the switch’s hardware capabilities as well as Hypervisor Switch based overlay networks. Arista’s EOS architecture is very well suited for Software Defined Networking and it is great to see another OpenFlow enabled switch becoming available. The network virtualization functionality was provided by the Enterprise version of the Big Switch Controller. It provides redundant controller nodes for high-availability and management is done via an industry standard CLI or Web UI. To the right Dan Talayco and Jeff Townsend from Big Switch.

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