A Practical Guide: Rapid Automated Network Deployment

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April 25th, 2011

By Force10 Networks

Bare Metal Provisioning (BMP) or jumpstarting is a function that allows for virtually hands-off provisioning of many devices. When you hear about BMP today, it is primarily in reference to the automated provisioning of server infrastructure. As demand increases for larger and larger networks to support server infrastructure growth, however, we must adapt this technology to the provisioning of network devices themselves to keep up. Force10’s BMP function automates switch configuration to significantly improve data center build productivity. In this guide, we will see how to use BMP to automate configuration of Force10 switches.

Lippis Report 167: Alcatel-Lucent Jumps into the Data Center Switching Market with Its OmniSwitch 10K

February 28th, 2011

nicklippis.jpgThe data center switching market is heating up. To address the scale issues posed by mobile and cloud computing nearly every network vendor is launching its own version of a 10/40/100 GbE fabric to connect servers and storage to the internet. At the heart of this fabric is a two-tier (Fat-Tree) network made up of leaf/ToR and spine/Core switches. Here leafs connect servers and spines connect leafs while also being interconnected in a logical mesh. The protocols to create this logical mesh are based upon IS-IS link state routing, but each vendor is taking a unique approach with Cisco using its FastPath, Alcatel-Lucent and Avaya using SPB (802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging) while Brocade VDX is based upon TRILL (Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links). Juniper recently announced QFabric but has not detailed what it’s using for logical meshing. At the center of new data center design are leaf and spine switches. In Lippis Report Research Note 166, we detailed the latest ToR switches. In this Lippis Report Research Note 167, we dive into performance and power consumption measurements plus the use of SPB of Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniSwitch 10K, a new entry into spine/core data center switching market.

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Lippis Report 166: A New Generation of Top-of-Rack Data Center 10GbE Switching Is Here

February 14th, 2011

nicklippis.jpgDuring December 6-10, 2010, the Lippis Report and Ixia conducted the industry’s first 10GbE data center switching evaluation of Top-of-Rack and Core Ethernet switches at the modern iSimCity lab in Santa Clara, CA. We evaluated Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniSwitch 10K, Arista’s 7504 Series Data Center Switch, BLADE Network Technologies’, an IBM Company, IBM BNT RackSwitch G8124 and IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264, Force10 Network’s S-Series S4810, Hitachi Cable’s Apresia 15000-64XL-PSR, Juniper Network’s EX Series EX8216 Ethernet Switch and Voltaire®’s Vantage™ 6048. We are conducting a second round of test scheduled for the week of April 4-8 at iSimCity, and it is open to all suppliers of 10GbE data center switching. We learned a lot about these products, both in the lab and out. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we dive into the Top-of-Rack 10GbE switches we tested as they represent a new generation of products that exhibit low power consumption, low latency, high performance and are all based upon new single chip designs from Broadcom, Marvell or Fulcrum Micro.

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Making Networks More Agile With Force10’s Open Automation

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June 14th, 2010

stephengNetworking has become “rigid”. Yes, I know it’s almost absurd to attribute inflexibility or rigidity to networking, but we are in a compute innovation cycle that’s driving a fundamental change in networking, which screams out the need for more flexibility and configuration automation. The well understood problem is that when a virtualized machine is moved from one physical machine to another, the network, load balancers, firewalls/IPS, broadcast domains, etc., have to be reconfigured. There is no automation in place, meaning that the network is not flexible or agile enough to make the changes required. Networking companies such as Force10 Networks are driving an open approach to automation to enable network changes. I spoke with Steve Garrison, Vice President Marketing for Force10 Networks about their “Open Automation” approach to networking. Enjoy, Nick

Lippis Report 149: High End 10GbE Data Center Switches Reviewed

May 31st, 2010

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In Lippis Report 148 we reviewed the major drivers and trends that are propelling the high-end data center Ethernet switch market to well over a $1B annual run rate. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review the major suppliers of these switches. We review Cisco, Arista Networks Force10 Networks, BLADE Network Technologies, HP/3Com/H3C, Voltaire, Avaya, Brocade, and Juniper and identify their unique positions and offerings to participants in the burgeoning market. Our focus is the high-end, high density 10GbE switches that are enabling virtualized cloud computing data centers thanks to Terabits per second of back plane switching capacity, billions of packets per second of layer 2/3 forwarding, hundreds of 10GbE port connectivity per chassis, a new two-tier architecture, microsecond level latency, low power consumption, non-stop operation and software hooks that eliminate network barriers to large scale server virtualization. The engineering in these switches should be celebrated, as they represent the state-of-the-art in computer and network design. In short, they represent the fundamental building block of a new generation of IT delivery based upon cloud computing and virtualization. This Research Note is a must read for any IT executive designing a data center.

After finishing this Research Note, it became evident that this market needs a set of industry neural 10GbE switch test to independently verify vendor claims. We hope to make such a contribution this Fall.
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Force10 Is First To Offer 40 Giga bit Ethernet For The Data Center

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May 24th, 2010

stephengWhile the networking industry is full steam ahead with the transition from 1 to 10 Gb Ethernet in corporate uplinks plus virtualized and cloud spec data centers, the IEEE has been working on 40 and 100Gb Ethernet standards to be ratified soon. It’s anticipated that the 40GbE standard will be completed first and built with lower cost, long-range optical components than 100GbE. The question on the minds of most IT business leaders is when and where to deploy these ultra high-speed Ethernet technologies and at what cost? We answer these questions with Steve Garrison, Vice President, Marketing of Force10 Networks. We’ll dive into Force10’s 40 GbE leadership position and the new network design options it unleashes upon IT business leaders.

Lippis Report 148: What’s Driving The Multi Billion Dollar Data Center Ethernet Market

May 17th, 2010

nicklippis.jpgDuring last week’s Cisco Q3 FY10 quarterly financial conference call, John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, said something that impressed and shocked me. The company has been quiet about the growth rates for its Nexus line of data center switches until this call. What shocked me was that the Nexus 7000 is now on an annualized run rate of $1B, yes that’s Billion with a B! I remember being interviewed by John Markoff of the NY Times in Jan ’08 about the Cisco’s Nexus and Juniper’s yet to be announced Ethernet switches. In just 27 short months, the Nexus product line including the 7000, 5000 and 2000 represents a $1.4 B run rate of revenue to Cisco. Another insight gained from this ramp up is that the data center networking trends that we’ve discussed here in various Lippis Report Research Notes are powerful demand drivers for Cisco and other companies participating in this lucrative emerging market and its just starting! Companies such as Arista Networks, Force10 Networks, Blade Network Technologies, HP/3Com/H3C, Voltaire, Avaya, Brocade, Juniper, et al, have unique positions and offerings to participants in the burgeoning market. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review the mega trends driving high market growth. We save a product review of each of the suppliers for our next Lippis Report Research Note.

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Lippis Report 147: What I Learned At Interop

May 3rd, 2010

nicklippis.jpgThis past Interop in Las Vegas was one of the best I have attended, since even before the economy took a noise dive in 2008. The tone and level of excitement of the industry’s growth potential was refreshingly up beat from the hundreds of IT and vendor executives I talked with. While the size of Interop is a small fraction of what it was in the late 1990s, (70k attendees with over 600 exhibitors to ~ 15K attendees with ~ 200 exhibitors) it still provides a pulse of the networking industry. In fact, Interop has come full circle, back to being a networking event even though it has added other topics. You have to give Dan Lynch credit for creating such a long lasting venue for our industry. Congratulations to Cisco, Arista Networks, HP/3Com, Mallonx for winning best of show in their respective categories and for Arista for winning Best of Interop. In this Lippis Report Research Note I provide the key industry themes that were evident at Interop this year.

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