On the road to becoming a shipping product, our Cisco ONE Controller goes thorough a number of steps. One such step is interoperability testing at InCTRE Interoperability Lab. I recently caught up Phil Casini, Product Manager for the controller to see exactly what that entails and why our customers should care.
Phil, What exactly is InCTRE?
iNCTRE is the Indiana Center for Network Translational Research and Education hosted out of Indiana University. Their goal is to increase understanding, development and adoption of OpenFlow and other SDN technologies. We became a member in 2011 and utilized their Openflow testing services to provide us feedback on our Controllers interoperability with various network devices based on our Openflow 1.0 implementation.
How did they test our Controller?
The lab has a number of Openflow test suites that IU has developed over time In our case, they installed the Cisco Controller in their lab network that at that time utilized HP, IBM and NEC switches, then ran it through thier test plan.
How did our switch fare?
Our Controller was found to be interoperable with all three switches based on our Openflow 1.0 implementation.
What exactly does that mean for a customer?
INCTRE provides customers with independent validation of interoperability claims that are made by vendors.
So, should we take OF interoperability as table stakes? If so, what other things should customers be evaluating when they look at controller technology?
Like any other new technology, independent testing should be one of a list of evaluation criteria for evaluating vendor products. In the case of controllers for SDN, Openflow testing provides assurances that network devices can interoperate, but usually the end goal is to implement a solution. Openflow is important in that it is a means towards achieving the solution goals but it is not necessarily the end. Other criteria such as extensibility of the controller to adopt to the solution, functionality of the controller for operation in a production network environment, and the efficiency at which business applications can be adopted or created that will interact with the controller and complete the solution are other very important factors in determining a fit. On a weighted bases these may count more to reach the solution goals than the mechanism used to communicate between the controller and the network devices.