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Brocade, Broadcom, Freescale trio aglow in the OpenFlow chateau

Support for version 1.3 now slipped into tech gear

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Brocade, Broadcom, and Freescale have broadened their backing of a key software-defined networking standard by supporting version 1.3 of the OpenFlow specification throughout their products.

The trio announced the move on Monday at the Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, California.

OpenFlow is a software-defined networking specification backed by the Open Networking Foundation. It provides an interface between the control layer of a network and the infrastructure layer, and is seen as one of the more appropriate technologies to use for Network Function Virtualization (NFV).

Put plainly, a standard like OpenFlow makes it easy to create a separate controller and use that to make software-defined networking routing decisions across layer two and layer three of the network.

OpenFlow 1.3 supports IPv6, Group Tables, Active-Standby Controllers, Q-in-Q, and other features, and was released in late 2012. Other companies, such as HP, have also made moves to integrate the technology [PDF].

By supporting the software-defined networking standard, Brocade, Broadcom, and Freescale hope to turn the enthusiasm for the technology into profits – and snub incumbents like Cisco in the process by making it easier for people to break the control plane away from the underlying hardware.

Networking biz Brocade said it will support OpenFlow 1.3 at no additional cost to customers across its Brocade MLXe, CER, and CES products. It will also release two new hardware modules for its MLXe routers based on its VersaScale Packet Processing tech.

Meanwhile, chip fiddlers Broadcom and Freescale have made moves to support the standard in hardware.

Broadcom announced the "OpenFlow Data Plane Abstraction" specification, which it claims is the "industry's first" published outline of the physical switch hardware pipeline for the OpenFlow 1.3.1 switch.

This should make it easy for companies to pull information from its StrataXGS switches up into virtualized networks via the protocol.

Freescale, meanwhile, announced that its new VortiQa network director and switch software will be compatible with OpenFlow version 1.3 onwards, and will incorporate a C-based embedded SDN controller implementation. Freescale's software will be available in March, the company said.

This flurry of support follows BigSwitch Networks, NEC, and HP implementing support for the protocol in their products, making it more likely that OpenFlow will become a standard within the young SDN industry. ®

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