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Farewell to Northbound Networks - MovingPackets.net

Farewell to Northbound Networks

Digging through my office looking for some other technology which I had misplaced, I stumbled across a small box containing a Northbound Networks Zodiac-FX, a small 4-port FastEthernet OpenFlow SDN switch which I had picked up after backing a 2015 kickstarter campaign.

Northbound Networks Zodiac FX SDN Switch

These were a pretty cool idea, and at the time OpenFlow (OF) was the hottest thing around, everything was being SDN-washed, and the idea that a regular user like myself could afford actual hardware with OF capabilities to toy with in the home lab was beyond belief. Of course, it was possible to virtualize OF with Mininet, but there’s something about using a real switch that goes beyond that. Even though, as you’ll in a future post, I ended up wasting that opportunity, I am still honored to have backed it, and my hat is off to Northbound Networks’ founder Paul Zanna for what he has accomplished.

Paying My Respects

With that in mind, I’m sad to note that when I went to the Northbound Networks website, I discovered that some time around August 2020 the company stopped manufacturing SDN hardware.

Northbound Networks home page, January 2021

Since the original Zodiac FX campaign, Paul had expanded the available products to include an 802.11ac Wireless AP (Zodiac WX) and a 5-port gigabit switch (Zodiac GX).

Of course, discovering this news just as I have rediscovered my Zodiac FX is ironic and rather bitter timing. Nonetheless, I intend to wake the Zodiac up and put the latest firmware on it, the process for which I’ll cover in a subsequent post. Meanwhile, late to the party though I may be, I wanted to offer up a tip of the hat to Mr Zanna, to send my regrets that after four years of hard work this is how it ended up, and to wish him well in whatever he ends up doing next. I sincerely hope that you have another Zodiac line of products in you!

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