|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.]
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 26, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,060
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Oct. 26, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,467
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Oct. 26, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,729
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Oct. 26, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,106
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Oct. 26, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 34,222
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions 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. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Oct. 26, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,045
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 and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Oct. 26, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,862
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Oct. 26, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,191
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
Oct. 25, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,994
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 25, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 997
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Oct. 25, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,246
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
Oct. 25, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,108
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu 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. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
Oct. 25, 2016 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,378
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Oct. 25, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,544
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Oct. 25, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,127
OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
Oct. 25, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 338
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, 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. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Oct. 25, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,250
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium 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. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Oct. 25, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,449
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Oct. 25, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,148
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Oct. 25, 2016 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,466