|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 Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 24, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,096
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
Jul. 24, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,203
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Jul. 24, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 823
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 23, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,198
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jul. 23, 2016 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,851
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Jul. 23, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,220
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 23, 2016 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,426
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Jul. 23, 2016 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,944
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 23, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,652
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 23, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,771
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 23, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,025
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 23, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,414
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 23, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,793
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
Jul. 23, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,870
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
Jul. 23, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 875
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Jul. 23, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 809
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 23, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,889
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 23, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,724
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, discussed how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technologi...
Jul. 23, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 941
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Jul. 23, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,309