Who’s In the Play Pen of SDN?

As a Director on the Board of the Ethernet Alliance, I am constantly inviting and challenging those in the industry to share their latest and greatest implementation of technologies and innovative practices. Recently I posed a  question to the extended Ethernet Alliance audience and member companies specifically and asked who was implementing software defined networking in their environment.  I received an overwhelming response filled with different implementations, use cases, and best practices.  It was very encouraging and it got me to dig a deep further about who specifically in the networking space was contributing to this concept best.  Software defined networking, according to Wikipedia, is a form of network virtualization in which the control plane is separated from the data plane and implemented in a software application. This architecture allows network administrators to have programmable central control of network traffic without requiring physical access to the network's hardware devices.  That’s a pretty straightforward and clear definition.  More over, I would add that software defined networking decouples network control (learning and forwarding decisions) from network topology (junctions, interfaces, and how they peer).

I work for a storage company.  That is apparent to most who know me and follow my various outbound publications. What may not be as apparent is my deep-rooted interest in how certain networking companies out there are game changers in this entire space.  Given the neutrality and industry promoting goals that being on the Board of the Ethernet Alliance provides, I like to explore the new and exciting offerings out there.  One such game-changing networking vendor is Arista Networks.  This company is not only shipping best of breed products, but it’s also led by one of the most successful women in high tech. Brownie points for being fabulous and forward-thinking female. Jayshree Ullal is leading of team of some of the best and brightest in networking, and providing programmable networking is one of the things they excel at.  Her blog post about SDN is quite informative and offers compelling insight. 

A couple months ago, they announced a new series of switches that offer a flexible forwarding path that supports advanced functionality through Software Defined Networking. These products enable architectures well suited to interoperate with SDN controllers for network-wide virtualization, virtual machine(VM) mobility and network services, without compromising performance.  The speeds and feed match at the bare minimum and exceed as their norm compared to any of the competitive offerings.  The Arista 7150 Series offers up to 64 wire-speed 1/10 GbE ports or 16 40GbE ports, the largest Layer2/3 and multicast scale offered today. The 7150 Series supports VXLAN tunnels at wire-speed, supporting workload mobility between physical and virtual machines. It enables 40GbE ports with port-to-port latency of 350 nanoseconds for Layer 2/3 forwarding. Advanced network services, such as Network Address Translation, IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol, and congestion management are, for the first time, available on a single system, providing unprecedented flexibility.

It’s no secret that I am a big advocate of Big Data and Analytics.  Being the co-chair of the SNIA Analytics & Big Data Committee, it is a topic that is on the forefront of my mind and focus daily. When it comes to SDN, I like to explore how it plays in the Big Data, Cloud, and Web 2.0 specifically.  The advanced Latency Analyzer (LANZ+) functions provide application-level microburst detection, congestion monitoring and analysis essential to optimize big data and other performance-sensitive applications. The flexible forwarding path enables new packet formats to be parsed and forwarded with deterministic performance and provides investment protection.  Talk about an innovative process! Along with open EOS APIs these new switches offer monitoring, analysis and forensic capabilities for both coarse and fine-grained views of data flows and network activities; including stateless load balancing and network analyzer functionality.  It doesn’t get much cooler than that in the networking world.  Do you want to combine multiple ports into a single aggregative port for better scaling and simple network migrations?  No problem - additional AgilePort capability allows four individual 10Gb ports to be combined into a single 40Gb port. Sweet.

Being on the lookout for cool functionality in the networking world will always be at the forefront of my mind.  After all, without networking we would all be a bunch of nodes floating around without any hope of a connection