HP switch upgrade hopes to sneak SDN onto network, quietly

Vendor silicon's white-box fightback continues

Interop HP has used Interop as the venue for its latest switch launch, putting software-defined networking (SDN) alongside speeds and feeds in the marketing pitch.

The way HP sees it, mobility – not just the cellphone but also the proliferation of WiFi devices – is the big deal that demands SDN.

The old-world attitude to the network, that all you really need is the next big pipe so you can over-provision network capacity like mad, is no longer viable.

Mark Thompson, director global product management campus switching, told The Register that capacity, security, application awareness and user awareness all demand a change to the platforms behind the access point.

On security, for example, he said that the approach that “once you're in the building, you must be okay” is no longer viable. Mobile users access the network from outside; contractors access it from the inside, and wireless signals leak outside the walls.

“And none of them have devices that you can guarantee trustable”, he said, so the network has to be able to manage access not just to an application's login, but also the paths a user is allowed to use in the network.

On the capacity side, he said: “Latency-sensitive applications, voice and video applications, video infrastructure, remote desktop – those are all competing not just fort the total size of the pipe, but that precious first choice in terms of latency.

“Even if you overprovision the pipes, the applications have to talk to the network – either change the behaviour of the application, or to ask for access to a service,” he said.

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