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Wireless LAN vendor Meru Networks has released an application that ties Microsoft's open SDN APIs for its Lync unified communications platform to the OpenDaylight Project's open source SDN controller.
The application, Meru Collaborator, connects with the northbound APIs on the OpenDaylight controller and allows it to apply QoS settings to specific Lync sessions across the wired and wireless network. Meru is offering the application for free.
"Any OpenDaylight SDN controller can use it," said Dennis Huang, Meru's director of product marketing. "Infrastructure that supports communications of OpenFlow southbound messages [from the SDN controller] are able to [implement] a QoS connection when users initiate Lync calls, where that end-to-end connection has a specific policy applied to it."
For instance, Lync is able to tell the SDN controller that a user is starting a video call. The controller can set a QoS policy across the wired and wireless network that dedicates 5 Mbps of bandwidth to the video session. The controller can use OpenFlow to instruct network devices on how to detect and react to Lync sessions, Huang said.
"You could have a laptop that is wired to the network and a Lync client application on an iPad that someone is roaming around the office with," he said. "When they initiate that Lync chat, [Meru Collaborator] ensures that the connection between these two clients receives 5 megabits of prioritized bandwidth."
Given the open architecture of OpenDaylight and SDN in general, the Meru application will work with any wired or wireless network device that supports OpenFlow. The OpenDaylight controller can use other southbound protocols to communicate with network infrastructure, but Meru Collaborator is currently designed to speak only with OpenFlow-enabled infrastructure, Huang said.
"When you have the ability to take something like Lync and translate those application needs into real networking capabilities, suddenly you've opened up a lot of interesting integration possibilities," said Eric Hanselman, chief analyst for 451 Research.
Meru is one of a few wireless LAN vendors to support OpenFlow on its Wi-Fi access points and it has worked on federating its wireless LAN controller and OpenFlow controllers. It has also partnered with NEC's OpenFlow networking business to advanced SDN-based integrated wired and wireless networks.
Meru has used the OpenDaylight Hydrogen release to test all of its OpenFlow efforts, Huang said. Meru wants other vendors to use its Meru Collaborator application to integrate Lync QoS with SDNs. And the company hopes other vendors and developers in the OpenDaylight community will contribute improvements to the application. Meru is also interested in creating similar applications for other unified communications platforms, he said.
OpenDaylight "is now a platform that provides a substrate for interesting innovations," Hanselman said. "For Meru, they can provide a way to integrate their flexible capabilities in terms of QoS guarantees and other things that Lync needs to work well, and provide a portal to do that through this OpenDaylight application."
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