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HP pushes SDN to transform physical networks

Jack Loo | June 22, 2012
Virtualised networks can deliver apps in minutes instead of months.

With one out of 10,000 command line interface (CLI) manual entries likely to be a mistake, the act of provisioning applications can take up to months instead of minutes, according to an HP Networking executive.

This does not sit well in today's prevalent cloud environment where applications need to be deployed fairly quickly, said Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking. She was speaking at the enterprise technology showcase and conference Interop in Tokyo last week.

Admins have their hands full cleaning up mistakes from manual errors. "Seventy percent of network outages are caused by manual configurations using CLI," said Mayer.

Besides manual errors, networks can also be inflexible. "We have rigid physical networks that are architected for just one tenant. They can be application-indifferent where it cannot distinguish an e-commerce tool from a YouTube-application," said Mayer.

The solution lies in Software Defined Networks (SDNs) that can help admins focus less on managing infrastructure and more on connecting users to applications. SDNs enable a single point of control for network configuration and application provisioning.

And with HP's Virtual Application Network system, an SDN effort that virtualises the network, a ten-step procedure of deploying VMs is cut down to just three.

"You build a profile with a template, choose a connection profile, and you just power on the virtual machines in just minutes," said Mayer. This is made possible when an SDN virtualise the network by separating the control plane from the physical infrastructure and templates that profile the application. It performs automated orchestration that optimises the network to enforce service-level policies and enable dynamic provisioning.

With vendors like Cisco and Brocade launching or executing their SDN efforts, Mayer believes HP has a strong value proposition when it went to market early with its offerings. "We had products while others were still having discussions, and we have been selling them for quite awhile," said Mayer.

Despite a fairly new concept, SDN and its enabling protocol OpenFlow, with its promise of virtualising the network, will be around in the long run. "I think that is very important in an industry that has been hampered in terms of innovation as a result of competitors having closed proprietary systems and protocols," said Mayer.

"We think OpenFlow would benefit first of all the customers. It gives the ability to automate and virtualise networks. It is interoperatable so that customers have choice in who they want to work with," she said.


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