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Big Network Controller

Big Network Controller is a commercial OpenFlow SDN controller based on Project Floodlight that is the foundation for Open Software Defined Networks (SDN), providing unified network intelligence, enterprise-class scalability, and high availability. Big Network Controller uses industry standard protocols, like OpenFlow, to create a common abstraction and universal data model for the underlying network data plane elements. When combined with open and published application programming interfaces (APIs), Big Network Controller provides a flexible and scalable platform for deploying network applications.

Big Switch Networks Open SDN 3-tier architecture with open SDN controller

Big Network Controller programming the Open SDN and exposing a restful API to applications from Big Switch Networks

Traditional Network Control Plane Challenges

The network is more critical than ever before. Business requirements in areas such as cloud data centers, monitoring, and security, have increased the scale, speed, and dynamism that you must address. At the same time, the significant shortcomings of traditionally closed and proprietary networking architectures are starting to manifest. Traditional networking devices operate as islands of functionality with disparate features and functionality, different management interfaces, and distinct policy definitions. As a consequence, network configuration today is a highly manual process; each device must be configured on a device-by-device basis. And, because these devices are vertically integrated and do not expose robust programmatic interfaces, they can’t be programmed or automated to respond to network events at the required scale. Ultimately, the network is unable to meet the business needs and response time requirements of the customers using the network. These challenges are most evident in cloud data centers.

The Solution: An SDN Controller Platform

Big Network Controller is the foundation of the Open SDN Suite that enables global network automation, dynamic response to real-time events, and the deployment of network applications.

Unified Network Control with Universal Network Abstractions

Big Network Controller provides a unified SDN control plane offering global programmability to deploy dynamic services across the network. Big Network Controller leverages industry standard protocols, such as OpenFlow, to abstract the network data plane from the control plane, and to centralize network control logic and intelligence into a common, highly available server. The OpenFlow protocol, standardized by the independent industry standards body, the Open Networking Foundation, establishes a common data structure for control plane messaging, rules, and actions between the SDN controller and associated virtual and physical switches. Centralization and abstraction using OpenFlow enables administrators and applications to directly access and control elements of the network, such as the global topology, switch and host state, and performance information. Such unified control has never before been available in traditional systems or multivendor environments.

Enterprise Class Resiliency and Scalability

Big Network Controller is a centralized SDN control system with a distributed data store that supports enterprise class resiliency and scalability. Multiple controller nodes can be deployed in a hot/warm cluster configuration for high availability. Controller nodes fail over to another controller instance in the event of a problem, programming flows and re-establishing the network and provisioning new flows as the backup controller immediately takes over and programs connections. Big Network Controller can operate in clusters as virtual systems or on physical servers. It operates out-of-band and not in the data path.

Flexible and Open Network Application Platform

Big Network Controller provides northbound APIs that enable network applications to be deployed on top of a unified network fabric abstraction. These APIs expose the learned network state to applications, and enable the applications to dynamically and automatically program the network. Big Network Controller is based on the Floodlight Controller from Project Floodlight. The SDN controller, open APIs, and developer community resources support the industry’s first independent network application platform. Big Virtual Switch and Big Tap are examples of applications that leverage these controller APIs. Other innovative applications have been written by the developer community, including groundbreaking work from Caltech, CERN, Marist University, SRI International, and technology providers.

James Davis Sr. VP, Global Network Services
Fidelity Investments