The Lippis Report Analyses

A new issue of the Lippis Report is published approximately every two weeks. These reports contain not only links to the latest podcasts and industry white papers, case studies, and webinars, but also industry analysis from Nick Lippis, a world-reknowned authority on corporate computer networking, with over 15 years experience. Below you’ll find links to those analyses which are free to read and provide the opportunity for discussion as well.

Lippis Report 209: Cisco Launches New Catalyst 2960-X Access Switches

nicklippis.jpgBy all accounts, Cisco’s Catalyst access switch, the 2960-S/SF is the most widely deployed Ethernet switching platform in the world. It’s a hardware platform that offers 40Gbs of stack bandwidth, enough to support a stack of four switches, 2MB of buffer memory and four hardware queues. But while this platform has served Cisco’s customers exceedingly well, this July, a new Catalyst 2960 will be available—simply called the Catalyst 2960-X. Cisco promises that the 2960-X will double every benchmark of the 2960-S, as well as add a series of features that improve the platform’s ability to scale intelligently while increasing security and simplicity of deployment and operations. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review the latest edition of the most popular access switch on the planet, the Cisco Catalyst 2960-X.

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Lippis Report 208: A Robust Underlay to Support a Hyper Growth and Dynamic Overlay

nicklippis.jpgAt the Open Networking Users Group or ONUG this past February in Boston at Fidelity Investments, Chief Network Architects (CNAs) from the largest corporations discussed their Software-Defined Networking or SDN plans, obstacles, requirements and experiences. Two key systemic messages from this meeting were that network opex has to fundamentally change and that business unit managers are demanding self-service IT provisioning. These two requirements provide CNAs permission to break away from 25 years of networking to implement a new architecture that will meet these needs. One large bank showed a graphic plotting the rate of adoption of business unit self-service virtual machine adds, pauses and deletions. The curve was exponential and so, too, was the rise of its overlay virtualized network. And it’s just the beginning as virtualized network overlay adoption is in its infancy, considering only 48% of servers are virtualized and a much smaller number of virtual machines are networked. The questions many IT business leaders are asking are: “Can my underlay or physical network infrastructure support the huge growth of my overlay?” “What changes are required for my data center network infrastructure?” “What capabilities should I be looking for?” In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explore the role of network underlays in their support of virtualized network overlays.

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Lippis Report 207: The Killer SDN Applications: Network Virtualization and Visualization

nicklippis.jpgAt the last Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting in Boston organized with partner Fidelity Investments, it became very clear that there are two killer SDN applications: network virtualization and visualization. Some argue that network virtualization used for VM-VM networking is not an SDN technology, but I beg to differ. Sure, there are closed and open approaches to network virtualization, but over the next business cycle, the integration of OpenStack and OpenFlow will make it clear that network virtualization is an SDN application, especially as it’s extended to physical networks. The second killer app is network visualization—that is, the ability to monitor network traffic and tweak application performance.   At ONUG Rich Groves, Principal Architect at Microsoft presented his SDN based approach to network visualization he designed with Big Switch Networks, cPacket, IBM, Arista and other suppliers that everyone is now using.  Why is network visualization an SDN killer app? Because it uses SDN technology, and most importantly, lowers the capital cost significantly from existing network visualization approaches while also delivering an entirely new level of self-server flexibility. Companies, such as Big Switch Networks, Gigamon, Arista, Cisco, NetScout, Ixia/Anue, cPacket and others, are now positioning their network visualization offers within an SDN context and for good reason. In this Lippis Report Research Note, I focus on network visualization as an SDN killer app.

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Lippis Report 206: What the Market Said about SDN at the Open Networking User Group

nicklippis.jpgOpen Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting in Boston that we organized with partner Fidelity Investments. ONUG was a first for many reasons, but the biggest contributor to its success was its Board and the fact that the conference was closed to press, vendors and any recording. The ONUG Board, made up of chief network architects of the largest financial and retail concerns, developed ONUG sessions plus invited 10 pre-IPO firms to demonstrate their SDN solutions. The fact that the audience of 180 IT executives was able to openly discuss their open networking challenges, successes and hopes created a special mystique. Jayson Noland, Managing Director, Senior Analyst of Robert W. Baird, described the mystique best:

“There’s talk about standards and consortium, and what was apparent at ONUG is that there are very innovative early adopter IT leaders who will drive the market and determine the speed and success of true network transformation.”

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Lippis Report 205: Cisco Compact Switches Extend Borderless Network Services to Furthest Network Points

nicklippis.jpgCisco extended its line of Catalyst Compact Switches with twelve new “fanless” models. The new Catalyst Compact Switches support PoE +, GbE connectivity, hardware acceleration, security, energy management and most importantly, zero touch configuration and remote management features. These Compact Switches are designed to address unique requirements in the education, retail, hospitality, health care and manufacturing sectors, as well as conference rooms and small outpost offices of large corporations. What’s common across these industry sectors is the lack of IT staff usually present in classrooms, retail outlets, doctor’s offices, hotels, etc., to support local networking requirements, however many wish to deploy the same security, power and connectivity network services enjoyed at their larger facilities. With this in mind, Cisco’s Catalyst Compact Switches deliver new design options that fundamentally reduce wiring and operational cost through remote network management while increasing network performance. The same security services found in its Catalyst Access Switches, such 2960-S, 3750-X, 3560-X and 4500E, are also available in the Compact Switches. The Catalyst Compact Switches price points vary from the low range 2960-C to higher end 3560-C with GE and POE+ support.   In short, Cisco’s Catalyst Compact Switches extend Cisco’s borderless network services and smart operations to the furthest points of any network. In this Lippis Report, we review Cisco’s new line of Catalyst Compact Switches.
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Lippis Report 204: The Open Networking User Group – The Key End User Event of 2013

For the past nine months, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a group of IT architects from Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, UBS and Gap Inc. to develop the industry’s first Open Networking User Group or ONUG. This work has come to fruition with the Lippis Report’s first ONUG meeting hosted by Fidelity Investments on February 13th in Boston. The ONUG board developed topics to be explored, hand-picked speakers who are IT architects with SDN experience, chose 10 start-ups to demonstrate their open networking value and sent colleagues personal invitations. The result is that ONUG will be the biggest, most exclusive and important event for IT executives in 2013. Here’s why:

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Lippis Report 203: Why Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 Series Will Be Around in 2025?

Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 series is by far the most popular switching platform in the history of computer networking. Consider that the Catalyst 6500 has generated more than $45B in cumulative revenue for Cisco, thanks to its large footprint of close to 800,000 systems, 110 million ports shipped thus far to some 45,000 customers. Some deployments are as big as 4,000 Catalyst 6500 switches large! Factor in an installed base 20 times bigger than its nearest competitor with the resources to deliver long-term service and support, and the best analogy to describe the Catalyst 6500 is that of Boeing’s airplanes. Airlines upgrade from 737 to 747 to 757 and 777 as they grow and improve their service, maintaining operational consistency, quality and investment protection of training plus supply chain. In short, Boeing builds platforms that last, creating trust between airlines and Boeing. So, too, is Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 because Cisco is investing hundreds of million of dollars on a roadmap innovation with investment protection. We predict that the Catalyst 6500 will be in operation well into 2025. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explain why.

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Lippis Report 202: Big Switch Networks Launches the SDN Industry

On November 13, 2012, Big Switch Networks (BSN) launched its company with a 28 large ecosystem, an Open Software-Defined Networking (SDN) platform that included three key software products, with promise of much more to come, plus customer testimonials from some of the most scrutinizing, hard-to-please firms, like Fidelity and Goldman Sachs. What BSN launched on Nov 13th was not just a company and its product suite, but an organizing principle for the SDN industry. It was, by far, the largest SDN announcement to date with an impressive ecosystem afforded by its open SDN approach. Never have financial analyst firms published industry alerts, equity research, industry updates, etc., letters due to a start-up’s announcement but they did for BSN; firms such as Raymond James, Oppenheimer, Credit Suisse, UBS, the Juda Group, J.P. Morgan and others weighed in on its importance. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review Big Switch Network’s launch and offer an answer to the key question of what it means to computer networking.

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Lippis Report 201: What Comes After Zero Latency Switching?

During mid-September 2012, Arista Networks and Cisco Systems launched what both claimed to be the industry’s lowest latency switches aimed at big data, cloud, Web 2.0 and high frequency trading markets. Both products are Top of Rack (ToR), 10 and 40GbE switches. Arista’s is based upon merchant silicon, while Cisco utilized custom ASIC. Arista’s 7150 Series claims 10 and 40GbE, 350 nanoseconds Layer 2 or 3 forwarding, VXLAN support and what it calls “flexible forwarding.” Cisco’s Nexus 3548 claims 10GbE, 250ns to 190ns Layer 2 or 3 forwarding, and Cisco Algorithm Boost or Algo Boost technology. At 10GbE speeds, a bit is 1/10 of a nanosecond long, so Arista’s 7150 and Cisco’s 3548 switches delay is 3500 and 2500 or 1900 bits, respectively. That is, these products offer processing delays equal to the time it takes a few thousands of bits to traverse a simple metallic or optical wire at 10Gbs! In this Lippis Report, we review Arista’s and Cisco’s new ToR switches and answer the question: what comes after zero latency switching?

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Lippis Report 200: Say Goodbye to Three-Tier Spanning Tree and Hello to Two-Tier Active-Active DC Networks

October 8th at Ixia’s iSimCity in Santa Clara, CA, started the industry’s first public test of data center switches that boast active-active multi-path protocols such as Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links or TRILL and SPB or Shortest Path Bridging that eliminate active-standby Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) in the design of modern computer networks. This is a big deal as active-active is one of the main designs to speed up application performance in public and private cloud computing. To flatten and scale up cloud networks, the industry is offering multiple active-active fabric options such as Cisco’s FabricPath, Juniper’s Qfabric, Brocade’s VCS Fabric, Avaya’s VENA, Arista’s SDCN, Extreme’s Open Fabric, HP’s FlexFabric, IBM’s DOVE, etc. Some of these offerings are built with standard active-active protocols such as TRILL and SPBM others are proprietary. But it’s not as complex as it sounds, because even though the public active-active test is available without fee to all vendors, only four out of 17 companies are ready and have the confidence to test their products. Those are Arista Networks, Avaya, Brocade and Extreme Networks. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we share what we have learned thus far in the Lippis/Ixia Open Industry Active-Active Cloud Network Fabric Test for Two-Tier Ethernet Network Architecture.

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Lippis Report 199: IBM and HP Offer Software-Defined Networking Controllers

It’s been a few months since VMware acquired Nicira and Cisco launched Cisco ONE. But at the sleepy Interop NY show, IBM and HP expanded their SDN portfolios with the addition of SDN controllers. To date, there are just a few firms with controllers, including VMware, Big Switch Networks, Cisco, HP, IBM, NEC and Nebula. VMware put a value on SDN overlay controllers at $1.26B, which peaked the interest of every venture capitalist as well as network executive; so there’s no surprise to see more controllers entering the market. But what’s occurring is that the controller market is segmenting into OpenFlow and Overlay controllers with little to no awareness and/or interoperability between the two control plains. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we examine the new SDN controllers from Cisco, IBM, Big Switch Networks and HP with an analysis of their evolution.

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Lippis Report 198: Mobile Internet 2.0: Monetizing Public Wi-Fi via Business-to-Consumer Relationships

There are two worlds colliding: the mobile cellular voice world and the mobile data Wi-Fi world. These two worlds co-existed but largely ignored each other. But in 2007, everything changed when the iPhone was launched and started the world’s next big innovation cycle; that is mobilizing the Internet. This innovation cycle’s size and impact is on par with the Internet and social networking but is occurring faster than either of these cycles. Mobile Internet is now a necessity. Consider that 67% of Mobile Internet users use their smartphone to research a purchase and actually visit the store that advertised it, or that 72% have made purchases based on a local advertisement delivered to their smartphone. Mobility and proximity are coming together in the fact that 94% of users who receive location-based services consider them valuable.

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Lippis Report 197: Cisco’s Unified Fabric for Physical, Virtual and Cloud Environments

Over the past several years, the term “fabric” has been used to describe a weave of computing, storage and networking that make up the foundation of data center infrastructure. Many networking firms use the term “fabric” to describe converged networking and storage. But today’s data centers are built with a combination of physical, virtual and cloud networking elements that need to interoperate and span multiple data centers. A modern fabric needs to incorporate all of these forms of networking consistently to deliver flexibility through a wide range of design options. Cisco Systems has one of the most expansive fabric definitions that is backed up by over 36,000 customers who deployed NX-OS. Cisco modifies the term “fabric” with the word “unified” to describe a functionally-rich fabric, yet control is simplified through integrated management. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review Cisco’s Unified Fabric from business driver, architectural structure and outcome point of views.

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Lippis Report 196: VMware Bets Heavy on Virtual Overlay Networking with $1.26 B Nicira Acquisition

If it wasn’t clear before July 23rd that the Software-Defined Networking (SDN) controller market resides within a cloud stack, then it’s clear now, thanks to VMware’s $1.26 billion acquisition of Nicira Networks. VMware is building a cloud stack that’s first to recognize the importance of virtualized networking and places a very high value on it. The multiple to Nicira’s revenue is, let’s say, very high. Microsoft, IBM, Citrix, Red Hat and the open stack community have just taken notice and are in the process of evaluating Big Switch Networks, Arista Networks, Embrane, Pluribus, Plexxi, et al. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explore this exciting turning point in the open networking marketplace.

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