API style access to a managed switch

Does anybody know of a managed switch range that would allow an external system to set certain configuration options? I am looking at putting together a system for a business centre that can roll out VLAN options based on which office a new tenant has been assigned, ideally via some sort of API, or even via a script we could upload to the switch and play back via it's SSH interface.

Any suggestions anyone?
Marco van BeekManaging DirectorAsked:
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Marco van BeekManaging DirectorAuthor Commented:
Anyone ever tried using something like Open vSwitch on a real computer with lots of network ports?
Martyn SpencerManaging DirectorCommented:
You are definitely going to find OVS in use in virtual environments (I use Xenserver and its use is very common). As to using it on a computer with lots of network ports, I imagine you are hoping to create your own switch that you can control. I have never heard of this particular use. I imagine that something like Openswitch may be more what you are looking for?
Marco van BeekManaging DirectorAuthor Commented:
I think the problem with both the suggestions above is the hardware options are limited to some fairly expensive bits of hardware, and while a four port NIC might cost me upwards of £100, I think the cheapest switch on the OpenSwitch compatibility list was almost £1500, albeit for a 48 port switch.
Martyn SpencerManaging DirectorCommented:
I think the reason for this will be that switching is intended to be carried out with very low latency and just using a multi port LAN card may not give you the latency required for high speed switching. There is nothing stopping you rolling your own switch by installing a standard distro, a suitable multi port card and then setting up forwarding according to required rules. There are probably distros that are put together with this in mind and work well for 4-8 port set-ups. How they perform and the amount of power required to operate them may be acceptable for you.

There is a good discussion about this here: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/1f2ss7/can_linux_replace_a_switch/

Ultimately, for your use-case you may well be able to build something suitable. A second hand switch would probably reduce the budget you mention and when you factor in your time spent attempting to put something together and it not quite doing what you need, it may well be cash well spent.

Edit: In a virtualised environment this is not such an issue, as the hypervisor(s) can be optimised to provide switching with low latency since there is no real physical network access until two separate hypervisors need to communicate and then I imagine hardware switching would also be configured to optimise this.

Edit2: Although primarily for routers, you may find some mileage in Openwrt (https://openwrt.org/packages/start). You may be able to put something together that meets your requirements. There is a page about switching (https://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/uci/network/switch). It has a configuration interface that may be scriptable in some form or another.

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