An interesting startup is launching their SDN solution @ Interop Las Vegas today: Quantum Networks use the latest quantum computing technology to solve some of the hardest problems of controller-based networking.
One of the fundamental problems of hardware-based OpenFlow solutions is the flow update rate – most switches using merchant silicon can insert around 1000 new flows per second into their forwarding tables. Technologies based on quantum mechanics effects change all that – a quantum entanglement technology patented by Quantum Networks can install new flows instantaneously across the whole network.
The second fundamental problem that I’ve been ranting about continuously for the last three years is the amount of state kept in the network. Hardware resources are limited; most ToR switches have a few thousand entries that can be used for OpenFlow-style header matching, and even virtual switches don’t fare much better.
Quantum Networks used another technology based on quantum computing principles to solve this challenge. Quantum computers can perform non-deterministic calculations – once the controller installs network model into the switches, the non-deterministic hardware handles packet forwarding without creating flow state.
Finally, one could use quantum entanglement to forward data across Quantum SDN switches – spin changes in entangled electrons in ingress switch would be immediately reflected in the egress switch, potentially breaking through the speed-of-light barrier.
As far as I can see, Quantum Networks faces only two barriers to production deployment of their solution:
- The quantum entanglement between the controller and all associated switches has to be created within tightly controlled conditions, significantly complicating the product ordering and delivery process;
- Random noise introduced by environment heat quickly degrades the perfect entanglement; the switches thus have to operate in an environment with temperatures below -274 degrees Celsius, somewhat obstructing the regular data center maintenance process.
Regardless of all the deployment challenges (who doesn’t have them?), I’m pretty positive about the future of Quantum Networks, and believe they have as much chance for success as most other SDN startups.