Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Mano Marks, Liz McMillan, JP Morgenthal, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

Blog Feed Post

Building a Plexxi Network

[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.

wrk-blog-pic1

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

OSR

Total 1 Year Cost

288

$1,223 2.88 Tbps

1:1

$384,950

1152

$1,223 11.52 Tbps

1:1

$1,539,800

2304

$1,223 23.04 Tbps

1:1

$3,079,600

432

$517 1.44 Tbps

3:1

$243,160

1728

$517 5.76 Tbps

3:1

$972,640

3456

$517 11.52 Tbps

3:1

$1,945,280

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.

wrk-blog-pic2

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:

wrk-blog-pic3

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

/wrk

[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 post Building a Plexxi Network appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bill Koss

Bill Koss is VP of Sales at Plexxi. Sales is about having a keen understanding of customer needs and matching them to appropriate solutions so that everyone benefits. The best salespeople are fluent in both business and technology, translating product into value. Vice President of Sales he has acquired these skills over a 20-year career in networking and information technology.

Plexxi is Bill’s fifth venture-backed startup, having successfully exited CrossComm, SDL, Sonoma Systems and Internet Photonics. Notably, Ciena acquired Internet Photonics in 2004 to include the CN4200 platform, which became a $1B+ product line. While with Ciena, Bill held a variety of roles including VP of North American Sales and VP of Global Partners. During Bill’s tenure at Ciena, annual revenue grew from $290M to $700M.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
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 peeled 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 enviro...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, 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 opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.