Why Google Opted for Open-source Networking Technology
If you can't find a better alternative, then it's best to build one yourself. That has to be Google's creed and modus-operandi regarding its networking solutions. For the past two years, Google has been surreptitiously building an advanced computer network based on the radical open-source protocol, OpenFlow. This started as an internal restructuring effort where existing routers and switches were replaced with OpenFlow-compatible equipment.
The protocol, originally conceived by a student named Martin Casado from Stanford University, uses software-defined networking (SDN) to control network hardware such as switches and routers. Presumably, SDN makes networks more secure and easier to manage by separating the software which controls network traffic from physical routers and switches. Google's restructuring project has since been named as the 'G-Scale Network'.
This information was revealed by Google's Senior VP of Operations, Urs Hölzle, during a recent talk held at Santa Clara, California. To adopt SDN, however, Google had to build their own hardware to ensure that the equipment was up for the job. "In 2010, when we were seriously starting the project, you could not buy any piece of equipment that was even remotely suitable for this task," said Hölzle. The Senior VP also went on to say that he hopes the likes of Juniper and Cisco would eventually adopt OpenFlow and construct their own equipment, of which Google would be happy to snap up.
However, Hölzle clarifies that Google has no plans to get involved with the networking business. Elsewhere, major industry players such as HP recently announced a string of OpenFlow-enabled switches, including models under the HP 3500, 5400, and 8200 series.