Huawei unveils open SDN forwarding plane technology

Huawei says it has developed a software-defined networking (SDN) forwarding plane technology that is better suited to carrier networks than OpenFlow. Called Protocol-Oblivious Forwarding (POF), the technology offers a more flexible programming model that doesn’t limit forwarding devices to pre-defined packet protocols or forwarding rules, Huawei asserts.

Huawei says it has developed a software-defined networking (SDN) forwarding plane technology that is better suited to carrier networks than OpenFlow. Called Protocol-Oblivious Forwarding (POF), the technology offers a more flexible programming model that doesn’t limit forwarding devices to pre-defined packet protocols or forwarding rules, Huawei asserts.

Rather than using hard-wired protocol implementations, POF packet forwarding processes are defined by software in a controller. This controller can program forwarding devices via fine-grained forwarding instructions (including data offsets and lengths), Huawei explains. This software-based programming provides flexibility, the company says; the actual packet processing and forwarding is performed by the program in forwarding devices (i.e. packets do not flow through the controller).

POF use will lower capex and opex and provide more flexible capabilities to conventional IP networks, including real-time service-oriented network abstraction and management, Huawei asserts

Huawei has developed POF prototypes based on the NE5000E core router platform and says it has tested the forwarding of multiple services. The testing has demonstrated the use of POF means forwarding devices no longer need to directly support specific protocols and that forwarding performance requirements can be met in a variety of scenarios.

The company adds that it will demonstrate such POF prototypes at next week's Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara, CA.

"Our hope is to help accelerate the pace of innovation for open SDN and future-proof evolution of networks,” said Dr. Justin Joubine Dustzadeh, vice president of technology strategy and CTO of networks at Huawei Technologies. “Carriers and users of networks in particular can benefit from more flexible switches and can reduce the total cost of ownership by focusing on building simpler, fit-for-purpose networks where only required forwarding behaviors need to be programmed in each switch. Such forwarding plane evolution technologies help remove protocol dependency in forwarding devices and can ultimately enable support of any existing/customized packet-based protocols via generic instructions. We believe that openness and software-based programmability of forwarding devices can help increase the adoption of OpenFlow, particularly in the carrier space where we see a huge potential for simplification."

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