OpenFlow backers ultimately want to push all those networking jobs to x86 servers controlled by C++ programs to simplify network management and disrupt the big ASIC-based companies such as Cisco, AlcaLu, Juniper, Ericsson.
It will be a 5-10 year battle methinks.
I'm not sure I see a conflict between proprietary ASICs and Open Flow. The first is hardware, and the second is software.
High end Cisco routers confront a simple problem: an absolutely enormous amount of packets are being pushed through the network that must be processed and routed. As volume steadily increases, the question becomes "How do you do it fast enough to handle them all?" Cisco's answer is custom hardware designed for the purpose. Can it be done with off-the-shelf commodity hardware? I suspect Cisco might do it to lower their costs if they thought it could.
Ideally, the software level will abstract away the hardware, and if I'm a network engineer defining networks, I don't necessarily know or care what hardware is actually doing the work. I use the same commands and procedures regardless.
Rick: I don't think Cisco can have it both ways...they are supporting OpenFlow for PR reasons but clearly push their own technology...it is a loose-loose position they are in in...they need their own ASICs and proprietary system architecture to provide value added and prevent low cost box makers from copying their designs...but the world is going global with openflow and that tide will eventually crush them, they can't compete with Huawei on cost...Kris