|By Bill Koss||
|April 21, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
[This post is penned by Plexxi executive Bill Koss]
Two months ago I read an interesting blog post by Greg Ferro titled “Cheap Network Equipment Makes a Better Data Centre.” At Plexxi, I am the person who leads our sales team and I found the post interesting because I think there is a lot of disinformation in the market regarding the cost of procuring networks. Every week it seems I read a report or article on networking margins, port prices, market share, SDN, bare metal, leaf/spine, open source, linux, etc. When I speak to customers, there is an equal amount of confusion and in my view it perpetuates the current state in favor of the incumbents.
As a level set, when a potential client asks: what does Plexxi do? I tell them we build ethernet switches based on merchant silicon; we use Linux for an operating system, we use a photonic inter-connect fabric and distributed controller architecture. Our switches speak ethernet and IP, just like all ethernet switches, but it is the controller and photonic fabric that make our switches different. Together we believe that our technology results in a system that has transformative scale, performance, and efficiency advantages compared to legacy network architectures.
Recently we provided a proposal to a potential client regarding their network. As with Greg Ferro’s project, we provided an all in proposal that included cables, software, transceivers, switches, controllers, accessories, support costs and the fabric interconnect ports. There were two design options based around the size of the interconnect fabric, which most people refer to as the spine or core. I have condensed some of the details for reading ease, but I think this is a transparent description of the proposal regarding (i) the costs of building a Plexxi network and (ii) how it is different with the choice of two different fabric options, much like the blog post from Greg. Here is the summary table of the network design options:
|# 10G Client Ports||$ Per 10G Client Port||Fabric Size||
|Total 1 Year Cost|
In a Plexxi network, we use a controller architecture. Our controller computes efficient photonic forwarding topologies. This type of architecture, often referred to as SDN, provides a number of benefits, but it begins with a fluid pool of capacity within the fabric. The capacity in our photonic fabric can be allocated, reassigned and reconfigured. Without providing a long technical description of how our controller operates, an important concept to understand is we use 100% of the fabric and we do not implement spanning tree or block links. We compute forwarding topologies using multi-flow commodity, graph theory math; that is one of the jobs of Plexxi Control. A Plexxi fabric can be used inside your data center and the use of a photonic fabric means the fabric can be extended to campus and metro area designs. Here are a few points regarding our controller and fabric architecture:
- The photonic fabric is managed as pool of capacity
- Applications and workloads that are important can be assigned fabric capacity
- Capacities can change, evolve and forwarding topologies can be diurnal
- Controller based fabrics are deterministic as opposed to distributed state fabrics that take time to compute state, which may or may not result in an optimal design.
- Controller based fabrics can centrally compute optimal paths and provide fast convergence by pre-computing failure recovery states
The use of a controller with a photonic fabric provides a number of scaling benefits. The most obvious benefit is the linear cost curves in terms of price per client port. The following chart shows the 10G client port cost in scaling from 400 to 3400 ports.
The linearity of the Plexxi architecture in terms of client port cost can also be seen in terms of power and cooling. In a Plexxi architecture, the performance of the network benefits when the controller tries to keep packets in the photonic portion of the network as much as possible, thus limiting silicon switch hops and incurring latency. Uniformed latency and uniformed power consumption per client power are benefits of the Plexxi architecture:
A question we often get is whether a Plexxi network requires a greenfield or can it be deployed in a brownfield. The answer is there are no greenfields. Plexxi networks have been deployed in a number of variations. We have had clients deploy Plexxi in the spine, while leaving the legacy ToR and server connections in place. We have had clients deploy Plexxi as a replacement strategy for the their leaf/spine network, thus collapsing a two tier or three tier network to a single tier. We have had clients deploy Plexxi between data centers providing a single hop, load-balanced fabric between data centers. Traditionally, most Plexxi customers connect our switches to legacy routers and switches using 10G or 40G ports. We have a handful of customers who have extended the Plexxi fabric via DWDM connections to legacy optical transport platforms.
Another question I have been asked is whether or not our photonic fabric is proprietary. The way to think about our photonic fabric is to compare it to the fabric modules found in traditional core and spine switches. What we have done at Plexxi is to take the backplane capacity in spine/core switches found in multi-tier networks and distribute that capacity into each switch. When you add port capacity, you add fabric capacity. Five years ago this type of network design was not possible, only with the advent of the modern controller architecture coupled with low cost, multi-path photonic interconnects has it become possible. The design objective of a Plexxi network is to manage the network as a resource pool that can be correlated with the needs of compute and storage. We believe that networking is entering the era of plenty and that networks built with rich amounts of path diversity are building blocks of the new networks. We believe this because that has been direction of compute and storage. Compute and storage have entered the era of plenty and it is time for the network to enter the era of plenty as well. The era of plenty for networking will be built using a controller architecture because a controller architecture combined with photonics, merchant silicon and Linux, is the best means to deliver the following benefits:
- Simplicity: Single tier photonic network
- High Utilization: Load balanced L2 fabric
- Controller Architecture: Unified view of network fabric
- Uniformed Low Latency: Direct connectivity
- Faster Failure Handling: Pre-computed forward topologies that converge rapidly to target optimum
- Elastic Network Capacity: Large-scale computation and path optimization through Controller enables fluidity of network capacity
- Reduced Cabling: Simplified network element deployment and insertion
[Today's fun fact: The average American/Canadian drinks about 600 sodas a year. Of course, the American version is 72 ounces compared to Canada's 12 ounces.]
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
May. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,810
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,568
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
May. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,720
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
May. 26, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,351
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
May. 26, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 681
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
May. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,851
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
May. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,201
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
May. 26, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,934
Container frameworks, such as Docker, provide a variety of benefits, including density of deployment across infrastructure, convenience for application developers to push updates with low operational hand-holding, and a fairly well-defined deployment workflow that can be orchestrated. Container frameworks also enable a DevOps approach to application development by cleanly separating concerns between operations and development teams. But running multi-container, multi-server apps with containers is very hard. You have to learn five new and different technologies and best practices (libswarm, sy...
May. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,847
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
May. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,787
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
May. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,604
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
May. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,908
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 26, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,134
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
May. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,040
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
May. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,760
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
May. 26, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,112
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
May. 26, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,877
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
May. 26, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,388
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
May. 25, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,962
Every day we read jaw-dropping stats on the explosion of data. We allocate significant resources to harness and better understand it. We build businesses around it. But we’ve only just begun. For big payoffs in Big Data, CIOs are turning to cognitive computing. Cognitive computing’s ability to securely extract insights, understand natural language, and get smarter each time it’s used is the next, logical step for Big Data.
May. 25, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,887