SDN opens up the networking marketplace to new providers, as evidenced by Huawei's new hardware offerings:
“Huawei officials on Aug. 8 introduced the S12700 series of switches, which are aimed at campus networks and built to address trends that are rapidly changing data center infrastructures, including cloud computing, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), software-defined networks (SDNs) and big data.”
The key differentiator in Huawei's new switches appears to be the flexibility of software, as described here:
“Gupta attributed this flexibility to Huawei's new Ethernet Network Processor (EPN), a programmable chip dedicated to Ethernet forwarding that powers the Agile S12700 line. Gupta said Huawei's EPN, compared to the application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) found in most Cisco switches, allows for improved cost efficiency, lower power consumption, and faster deployment times for services.
The main difference between ASICs and Huawei's EPN, Gupta said, is that EPNs can be more easily programmed to accommodate next-generation protocols or virtualization methods -- such as Virtual Extensible LAN (vxLAN) or Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (nvGRE) -- while most ASICs need to be replaced entirely to do the same.”
The movement from hardware to software is a powerful part of SDN's flexibility.