Kathy Gibson reports from Huawei Cloud Congress in Shanghai – The network has become the bottleneck stifling the ability of cloud computing to scale effectively; but software-defined networking (SDN) could hold the key to unlocking performance and scale.

“SDN is becoming necessary because, as the cloud gets bigger, traditional networking cannot satisfy the requirements,” says Swift Liu, president of Huawei’s switch and enterprise communications solutions.

“More and more enterprises are moving into SDN because they want to get more value from their investment in networking and their data centres.

“We think SDN is the future trend because it can provide more power utilisation and other features that we cannot provide today. The whole industry is moving to cloud, and networking has to move as well.”

But even SDN has some constraints because so far it’s been difficult to integrate SDN with traditional networking resources.

As a leader in the SDN market, Liu believes Huawei is well positioned to move the technology forward. Huawei has been ranked as the fastest growing global DCN infrastructure provider, with 13% annual growth, and holds the number two position for DCN market share in China. “And in 2015 we are actually moving faster,” Liu reveals.

Today, Huawei has launched Open Cloud Fabric (OCF), a fully-upgraded and deeply open SDN platform that aims to open up the cloud and networking.

OCF is based on three products: the OpenFire switch; the CE1800V soft switch; and the Agile Controller 2.0.

The OpenFire switch is fully compliant OpenFlow 1.3 – in fact, Liu says Huawei has become the first company with key switches to receive this certification. The switches are open and compatible, and can be controlled by both Huawei’s and other vendor’s open source controllers. “This allows customers to build their own network, and also achieve a high return on investment.”

The CE 1800V soft switch is a completely new product that is key for the virtual network. It is one of the most open soft switches in the market, with certification from both OpenFlow and OVSP standards. “The soft switch supports centralised management so the controller can reach out into the network to manage and control your virtual switch,” says Liu. “It is designed to be generally available on general platforms – so it can also run on VMware and Microsoft. It has wide application across different platforms, and provides layer 2 security.”

The Agile Controller 2.0 is a cloud-oriented open controller for both hard and soft switches. “This is a very strong combination because today most controllers can control one or the other,” says Liu. “But this controller can control both virtual and physical networks. This is very important and big leap forward.”

The new controller is an open platform, using a hierarchical and decoupled SDN architecture. Automatic deployment offers dynamic resource provision. Management has been made easy, and the product can scale. Reliability is an important factor, so it uses distributed cluster and slice-based storage technologies for load balancing and elastic scalability.

“OCF is a big step forward in SDN,” says Liu. “It makes networking more agile, more flexible and more powerful.”