By: Gigaom
March 26, 2013 at 03:01 AM EDT
Big Switch open-sources software to ease the move to commodity switches
New open-source and commercial software from Big Switch Networks threatens longtime hardware sellers as it lets customers introduce and manage commodity switches.

Hot off a new round of funding, Big Switch Networks says it now has open-source and commercial software to help companies scale out networks more easily and cheaply with commodity switches, further threatening the likes of legacy network gear sellers.

Big Switch’s new Switch Light software implements the OpenFlow networking protocol in physical and virtual switches. It lets data center administrators automatically and centrally send out policies from one location when new switches are added to the network, instead of having to go through with a time-consuming, hands-on process.

The open-source version of Switch Light is available for free because “we want to make sure (OpenFlow) industry standards are enabled in the data plane,” said Jason Matlof, vice president of marketing at Big Switch. The commercial version comes with technical support and is more scalable and highly available than the open-source version, Matlof said.

Switch Light is based on existing open-source technology developed a few years ago under the name Indigo. Customers can sign up to use the Switch Light software under a licensing agreement along with Big Switch’s other software-defined networking products — the Big Switch Controller for the network’s control plane, the Big Virtual Switch and the Big Tap monitoring program.

Consider the news another blow to Cisco, as the Big Switch software is aimed at customers that want to move away from lock-in from the legacy network hardware vendor and shift elements of their network stacks to white-label suppliers. Cisco still holds 65 percent of marketshare for Ethernet switches. Arista and Juniper play here, too.

As I reported earlier this month, Quanta Computer is keen on selling network gear such as switches directly to companies through a newly formed subsidiary, Quanta QCT, just as it has shifted from a primarily original-design manufacturer to a direct seller of servers. Quanta and other commodity switch makers, such as Supermicro, could benefit from the Switch Light release as well.

All eyes are on Cisco and Arista to make the next move. Meanwhile, as the Switch Light affords Big Switch a more rounded out product line, the company could again look like a good buy, just as it did last summer.


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