Recently, I participated in a webinar on software-defined networks (SDN) that reminded me of the importance of interoperability and performance testing for SDN.


Like many, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the features of SDN technology and the excitement of how it will change networking.  But that is only part of the story.


During the webinar, which was put on by network test leader Ixia*, industry analyst Jim Metzler reminded the audience that one of the potential market inhibitors for SDN, according to his surveys of IT leaders, is a fear that the technology will become proprietary.  Jim emphasized that a high degree of interoperability is needed for the technology to become mainstream.


This is why Intel® is committed to ensuring our Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6700 Family is fully interoperable with the SDN controllers from all manufacturers.


Most recently, our Barcelona OEM reference design was part of the Open Network Forum Plug Fest that took place at the Interop conference last spring. The test involved managing the switch using SDN controllers from a variety of vendors and demonstrating discovery, topology detection and fail-over functionality. 


Barcelona tested as perfectly interoperable.  But, since we had the stage we also wanted to demonstrate how the switch could execute these tests while operating at full throughput with our low latency of 300 ns.


SDN can change networking, but only if vendors continue to deliver on the promise of adopting the standard and contributing new features back to the community. Proving interoperability of controllers from all vendors is where the rubber meets the road in ensuring that SDN works as advertised.