Network software firm Infoblox today revealed that it is launching an open source tool designed to measure network complexity, called Tapestry.

Infoblox claims the software-defined networking (SDN) application will provide businesses with a new framework for understanding the complexity of their networks and help them to control their network costs.

Infoblox founder and CTO Stuart Bailey said: "For the first time in the history of the networking industry, it is becoming clear that complexity rather than bandwidth is the barrier to network growth. Today, discussions about network complexity focus on the tangle of wires and boxes, rather than the relationship of business processes to an increasingly large, dynamic and shared global IT infrastructure."

Bailey and research partner Professor Robert Grossman from the University of Chicago built the formula at the core of the Tapestry software.

The Bailey-Grossman equation generates a Network Complexity Index (NCI) number based on "endpoint interaction data from network-wide control systems such as the DNS".

The formula takes the number of endpoints on a network and looks at their interactions when performing certain business functions whereas traditional approaches count the number of network infrastructure devices, such as routers, and map the wires that connect them. 

By monitoring NCI data over time, CIOs can analyse changes in the complexity of their network and use it to inform their business strategy, the company said.

"The rapid change in network technology – including virtualisation, cloud, big data and machine-to-machine communications – make it essential to look at a bigger picture," said Bailey. "We hope Tapestry and the ideas on which the NCI is built will start a vigorous conversation on the future of IT networks. Network complexity is a CIO-level issue that needs to be both quantified and understood."

Tapestry will be available next month as a free download at www.flowforwarding.orgthe open-source community that promotes software-defined networking (SDN) based on the OpenFlow protocol.

Infoblox said the Tapestry SDN tool should be compatible with most IT networks. It runs on a free, open-source SDN control plane from called Loom, which controls low-cost SDN white boxes, to collect the NCI data.

According to the company, these SDN white boxes can operate in front of a network’s DNS servers without disrupting infrastructure or operations.

Tapestry should also help IT departments assess the benefits of moving to SDN, as well as gain experience of the technology, Infoblox claimed.