|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.]
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 487
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. 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 and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,157
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,588
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
Sep. 29, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,054
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...
Sep. 29, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,300
"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.
Sep. 28, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,955
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Sep. 28, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 363
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,716
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 354
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,630
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Sep. 28, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,154
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 ...
Sep. 28, 2016 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,124
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Sep. 28, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 310
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Sep. 28, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,777
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Sep. 28, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 266
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Sep. 28, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 271
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Sep. 28, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,726
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze 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. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Sep. 28, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,820
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Sep. 28, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 405
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Sep. 28, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,319