Big Switch Networks seeks to 'redefine' data center networking

Inspired by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Big Switch Networks is committed to "redefining" data center networking, announcing significant updates to its Big Monitoring Fabric and Big Cloud Fabric. The company is also giving away software worth $25,000 for lab and development environments.

"We've taken what Google and Facebook have done with their kind of expensive investment in network specialists that most companies can't afford, and we've created this off-the-shelf software solution that gives you all the benefits of a Google and a Facebook but at a scale that works for you," Big Networks Chief Marketing Officer Gregg Holzrichter told FierceWirelessTech.

Big Switch was an early SDN high flyer, along with Nicira, which was acquired by VMware in 2012. Both companies had a top-down network overlay strategy with SDN, but once that acquisition was completed, the whole make-up of the market shifted and Big Switch chose to do a strategic pivot. Instead of doing a network overlay, it re-architected the solution to be an SDN underlay software solution.

The company now wants to seed the market and expose more people to a new way of doing networking. Giving away software is part of its focus on trying to "continue to disrupt and innovate" and get more people to experience the next-generation approach, Holzrichter said. "We're hoping to disrupt networking in the same way that VMware was able to disrupt" the server market with X86.

While AT&T's Domain 2.0 initiative has received a lot of press coverage, a competing U.S. operator is expected to reveal its NFV deployment that includes Big Switch. That reveal is likely to be timed to coincide with Mobile World Congress 2016, but Big Switch wouldn't provide any spoilers.  

Meanwhile, CTO Rob Sherwood said the company's participation in the Facebook-led Open Compute Project is sort of a nuanced strategy. If you were to obtain a Wedge switch from Facebook, the only software that's publicly available on it is the open source software that Big Switch produces through the Open Compute Project.

"There's a bunch of reasons why we're actually open source even though we're mostly a commercial, closed source company. I like to think of it as we're giving the customers the option to build versus buy their network," Sherwood said. The commercial products are for those that want to buy their networking stack, "but we're open sourcing just enough" that's it's possible to build your own networking stack. "We're just trying to be part of both conversations," he said.

The company recently announced that it had closed a Series C round and raised $48.5 million in total growth financing. The funds will be used to spur adoption with both enterprise and carrier customers.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Network World article

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