Pica8 Allows Dynamic Policy Control on Edge-Core Switches

By Paula Bernier June 24, 2015

Pica8’s PICOS, a Linux-based network operating system, now supports two Edge-Core white box bare metal switches, and one of them is a Power-over-Ethernet 48-port device.

Switches with PoE help service providers like the telcos cater to small and medium businesses with services like disaster recovery, VoIP, Wi-Fi, and more. And PICOS delivers a solution that provides CrossFlow, Layer 2 and 3, and OVS, so service providers can do more dynamic network management.

CrossFlow is a Pica8 PICOS feature that allows OpenFlow and Layer 2 and 3 to run on the same switch, delivering port-level granularity. That way if service providers want to use an OpenFlow rule to define how they manage traffic, they can; it also is allows for use of Layer 2 and 3 traffic management when that makes sense. (Pica8 acquired open source project XORP, and uses that technology for Layers 2 and 3.) OVS stands for Open vSwitch, and allows a virtual switch to sit on a VM.

Calvin Chai, senior director of marketing at Pica8, says other switches would have a tough time delivering this level of dynamic bandwidth. Pica8 can do it, he says, because it supports software-defined networking, OpenFlow, and SDN controllers. Pica8 has tested and been working with the following controllers HP VAN, ONOS, ODL, RYU, and Vyatta Brocade, he added.

Use cases Pica8 is talking about for this solution include dynamic VPN between offices, fiber to the home, on-demand disaster recovery services, VoIP, and wireless to a building.

Pica8 is unable to name specific customers at this time, but Chai could disclose that it’s working with an ISP in the Asia Pacific, which is using its solution to enable cloud bursting. This kind of thing would enable retail customers of the ISP, for example, to ramp up available bandwidth during periods in which they expect an onslaught of shoppers, Chai explains, adding SDN and OpenFlow can allow for that.

Pica8 also is working with a North American regional ISP that caters to three municipalities and their residents over a FTTH network. The ISP has built a Service Velocity Gateway, which has been integrated with PICOS, and can make an automated call to a Pica switch saying a specific customer needs, for example, five ports for VoIP, and to get information about the whereabouts of available ports. This shows how OpenFlow, and SDN in particular, allow service providers to light up services for subscribers as they come onboard, says Chai.

“Doing this on a manual basis just would not work,” he says. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Executive Editor, TMC

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