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Big Switch to Introduce Switch Light

Switch Light is open source software that can be deployed as a virtual switch for server hypervisors

Big Switch Networks figures it's going to touch off a revolution in open software-defined networking (SDN) when it introduces what it expects will be the industry's first thin switching software platform, called Switch Light, later this year.

The revolution is aimed at breaking the lock-in of switch king Cisco and Jupiter, maybe even Arista, threatening them with cheaper commodity switches. It's a toss-up about where VMware lands after the dust settles. It's using a different protocol.

Switch Light is open source software that can be deployed as a virtual switch for server hypervisors and in merchant silicon-based physical switching platforms, commonly known as white box switches.

The start-up claims the widgetry frees customers from the historically proprietary, closed networking architectures by implementing the OpenFlow networking protocol in physical and virtual switches. As a result capital costs should be lower and operating costs should be dramatically lower because of a zero-touch automated and centralized common provisioning and management model that promises no more manual networking and is supposed to eliminate most service requests and changes.

Initially, Switch Light will be available for a range of merchant silicon-based physical switches like Switch Light from Broadcom and virtual switches such as Switch Light for Linux.

Big Switch promises to port the software to other data plane devices in the future.

Switch Light is based on the open source Indigo Project, a sub-project within Project Floodlight, the leading open source SDN community project.

Project Floodlight is the source of the Floodlight controller, the Indigo OpenFlow agent and several open source apps and utilities.

Switch Light, now in early access with a few customers, will go into limited beta in June, with general availability following later this year.

The open source version of Switch Light will be free. A more scalable and highly available commercial version with technical support and a range of services will come with other parts of Big Switch's Open SDN Suite - the Big Network Controller, Big Virtual Switch or Big Tap.

Big Switch says it is working with go-to-market partners for Switch Light at "every link of the value chain," including Broadcom as the leading merchant silicon partner and Accton, Celestica, and Quanta for merchant silicon-based switches. Quanta is apparently pretty hot to trot.

Extreme Networks, a key Big Switch data center switching partner, will be enhancing its hybrid switch offerings by supporting Switch Light.

Big Switch has been funded to the tune of $45.3 million by Index Ventures, Khosla venture, Redpoint Ventures and Goldman Sachs. Intel provided a $6.5 million venture round in February.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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