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A hybrid software-defined network (hybrid SDN) is a networking approach in which traditional networking and software-defined network (SDN) protocols are used and operate in the same environment. In SDN, the control is passed to a controller software application instead of the hardware. With a hybrid SDN, network engineers were able to develop new SDN technologies and support switched fabrics throughout multi-vendor hardware and application-specific integrated circuits. This essentially allowed traditional networking hardware or legacy environments to run SDN technology, like OpenFlow, without the need for a complete infrastructure overhaul.
Two major approaches have gained popularity. Their differences in pedigree and implementation make each one useful to different markets, but not so much that it causes fragmentation.
Recently, Google shared its foundation for SDN. Because the hardware is separated from the software, it is easy for Google to focus on one or the other. It can choose hardware-based features, while at the same time developing and organizing software timelines. SDN also provides logically centralized control that makes it more efficient, fault-tolerant and deterministic, compared to non-SDN environments. Finally, automation helps Google separate monitoring, allowing the company to specify different aspects of its system, and to manage and operate it from individual boxes.