Infoblox shows off the promise of OpenFlow

A clever new data collection application, Infoblox's Tapestry provides early example of the power of SDN and OpenFlow

Infoblox has been in the business of DNS and DHCP and IP address management for years, more recently moving into the world of network automation. Co-founder and CTO Stu Bailey has become quite a proponent of the OpenFlow standard, which presents a completely different way to think about how computer networks operate. Today, his company is releasing Tapestry, an open source tool designed to run on OpenFlow devices.

The focus of Tapestry is to collect data on network complexity and how an enterprise network is being used, regardless of where the endpoints, applications, and services reside. The traditional means to collect this data would be by implementing packet sniffing in various places in the network and following the datastreams as they move through the wires. Tapestry, however, takes a different tack, one that allows for application use to be identified without tapping the network.

Tapestry works by watching DNS queries and identifying the applications and services in use based on that data. Whether the client is a BYOD iPad or a company-owned desktop system, when that user requests internal or external resources and applications, they request DNS for that service, which is tracked by Tapestry.

The important distinction is that Tapestry data collection runs on OpenFlow switches, not on a server. In this way, Infoblox is highlighting what can be done with OpenFlow while providing a useful tool to track corporate resource utilization. It requires OpenFlow devices to be implemented in front of DNS servers and a server-side component for dissecting and displaying the data.

One of the major shifts with OpenFlow is the lack of reliance on tightly coupled network hardware and software. With OpenFlow, it's possible to use commodity "white box" network devices that run OpenFlow-compatible code from other sources. The cost of these devices is generally much lower than traditional hardware, and the software is open in nature, meaning it's possible to develop and tweak your own code to fit your needs. Further, the nature of OpenFlow is such that these devices separate the control plane from the forwarding plane, which allows for much more granular network controls and reduced reliance on specific software configurations on network devices. In essence, OpenFlow is an example of a true SDN (software-defined networking) infrastructure.

The fact that Tapestry runs on the network devices themselves and performs data collection tasks usually reserved for dedicated servers showcases the strength of OpenFlow. Tapestry offers an early, interesting example of the future of networking applications.

This story, "Infoblox shows off the promise of OpenFlow," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.