New List Details Open Network Interoperability

The networking project of the Open Compute Project and the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab today jointly released what they are calling the "consumer reports for open networking" -- an open networking integrator's list of hardware, operating systems, cables and optics that are known to work together.

They are calling the UNH-IOL's Open Networking Integrator's List, which you can find here, "the first and only public directory of independently validated, interoperable combinations of networking products that are based on Open Compute Specifications."

Currently, the multivendor solutions that say they run on open networking tend to be integrated and then branded by a single large vendor as part of an ecosystem, notes Carlos Cardenas, co-chair of the OCP Networking Project. "Right now what you'll get on whether something will work on not, it's coming from someone's marketing team," he says. Those qualitative assessments are then often derided by competitors in typical market fashion.

"What we wanted was something more quantitative," Cardenas says. "Very prescriptive and anyone can replicate it, to basically remove the FUD that exists in the industry today." (That's fear, uncertainty and doubt, by the way).

By doing open testing with UNH-IOL, an entity known for its interoperability testing skills within telecom dating back to the DSL days, and by making the testing process and results public, the OCP Networking Project wanted to create a community-driven test plan with community-verified results that are publicly available for end-users to use to their own benefit.

The practical impact of this for those buying open networking hardware and software is that they won't be dependent on any one vendor of open switches, for example, to determine what cables and optics they can use with a given solution, but can decide for themselves the configuration of hardware, software, optics and cables they want to use, knowing they will work together seamlessly.

The announcement is being made today at the OCP Foundation Engineering Workshop in Boston and is the result of work done over the past year by the OCP that was publicly tested in September at UNH-IOL's Open Networking Plugfest. The range of devices tested was broad, including network operating system software, 10G and 40G switches, optical modules, active optical cables and direct attached copper cables. Twelve different vendors participated in the plugfest.

One overall goal is to build confidence in open networking, Cardenas says. The public nature of the testing will also highlight which vendors are actively working to enable interoperability of open networking solutions.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading