HP has announced a set of products and technologies for network virtualisation and management, aimed at making networks more flexible and easier to control and reconfigure in the datacentre and beyond.
Unveiled on Wednesday, HP's software-defined networking (SDN) portfolio comprises an SDN Controller along with nine additional switch models supporting the OpenFlow protocol, allowing their operation to be centralised and automated.
HP also announced Virtual Cloud Networks software to enable service providers to automate delivery of public cloud computing services, and SDN services to help customers assess their requirements and develop a roadmap for implementing an SDN architecture.
SDN itself is designed to overhaul the way networks are deployed and managed, which typically requires administrators to reconfigure individual network switches, routers and firewalls one by one to implement changes.
"The idea of software-defined networking is to create an abstraction layer comparable to server virtualisation, isolating the actual components that handle the network traffic from the control plane that defines what you want to do with it," HP EMEA product manager for Virtual Application Networks, Bruno Hareng, told V3.
To this end, HP's Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller provides the central control point, automating configuration of all devices within the network infrastructure. This is set to be available in virtual appliance form worldwide in the second half of 2013.
HP also added its new HP3800 series switches to the 16 already supporting OpenFlow, offering customers a wider choice of hardware that can be centrally controlled this way.
At the application level, HP's Virtual Cloud Networks software enables enterprises to create an isolated virtual network environment on public cloud infrastructure, building on the capabilities of HP's SDN Controller and OpenFlow-compliant switches. This is also set for delivery in 2013.
Available now is HP's Sentinel Security software application, which provides network access control and intrusion prevention security for networks using OpenFlow-enabled switch hardware.
The final piece of the puzzle is new consultancy offerings from HP Technology Services to guide customers through the implementation of an SDN architecture.
Set to be available from early 2013, these will include network baseline assessment and proof-of-concept delivery too.
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