During the Open Networking Summit, held last week in California, Google provided details of its massive software defined networking (SDN) implementation, dubbed the “G-Scale Network.” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, explained that the company’s internal networks that connect its data centers around the world all operate using OpenFlow, a software-based networking system that makes it easier to change network routing and switching protocols.

Forbes explained that such SDN networks are “more secure, more dependable and much easier to manage” because “the software that controls network traffic [is separate] from the physical routers and switches.” In fact, SDN has also turned Google’s internal network into a workhorse. Hölzle told Wired, “Soon we will able to get very close to 100 percent utilization of our network.” The publication explained that typical expectations of network utilization hover around 30 to 40 percent, making G-Scale more than twice as efficient as a traditional network.

Google’s wide-scale SDN network was kept quite the secret. Wired noted that “even the academics who were Google’s closest collaborators in hammering out the OpenFlow standards weren’t briefed on the extent of the implementation.”

But once the company determined that details of the G-Scale network were not material to the company, they decided to explain the breadth of the implementation in an effort to help speed SDN adoption among network providers and device manufacturers. Hölzle told the New York Times, “It’s not competitive for us, and it will help the Internet grow faster. That’s good for us.”

Google built the routers it needed to operate G-Scale, since such devices weren’t available when the project began in 2010

According to the New York Times, Google has been running G-Scale for about six months. While the company has not yet completed a cost savings analysis, Hölzle told the paper that he expects the SDN network to “have a bigger impact in costs than any technical change like a larger router, or 10 gigabit optical switches instead of 2.5 gigabit.” He explained that improved network utilization would provide substantial cost savings, saying the company is “hoping for a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction” from this outcome alone.

Google built the routers it needed to operate G-Scale, since such devices weren’t available when the project began in 2010, Hölzle told Wired. Google hopes that its announcement will help spur development of OpenFlow-ready routers and switches, along with adoption of such networks by existing network providers. In fact, some infrastructure providers already are working on SDN projects of their own. Yukio Ito, senior vice president of service infrastructure for NTT Communications Corporation, also gave a keynote presentation at the Open Networking Summit, during which he discussed the company’s yearlong project using OpenFlow and SDN as part of the company’s efforts to realize its “Global Cloud Vision.”

Do you think Google’s G-Scale announcement will spur adoption of SDN networks? Has your organization started exploring the potential of SDN for your own internal networks?

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