Summary:

As software-defined networking threatens big network vendors, Mellanox hits hard on another front by making a virtual version of a modular switch.

Amit Katz, senior director of product management, Mellanox
photo: Mellanox

Networking chip maker Mellanox has already moved to implement OpenFlow to make its switches more amenable to software-defined networking (SDN). Now it’s turning to software to virtualize the modular switch, a popular component of networking in the data center.

Like some SDN startups, Mellanox wants to challenge Cisco’s hold on the Ethernet switch market, and this is one more way to do it.

Mellanox customers can now pay nothing to deploy the new Virtual Modular Switch to connect Mellanox Ethernet switches within the data center in the open-source infrastructure-management tools Puppet and Chef, said Amit Katz, the company’s senior director of product management (pictured).

The idea is to make it more financially viable for companies running Cisco switches to move to comparable Mellanox gear. No wonder Katz included a chart comparing switch prices and other figures in his presentation:

Mellanox switch chart

Besides the economical advantages, Katz sees the use of top-of-rack switches in conjunction with modular-switching software as being much easier to scale. Changing configurations with the addition of more servers can be more tedious with physical modular switches.

If the new Mellanox software takes off, it could cause Cisco and the other big network gear vendors to do damage control, at a time when they’re already busy with the OpenDaylight Project to make sure SDN doesn’t disrupt too much.

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