A New Open Data Center Fabric Emerges for The Age of Software-Defined Infrastructure

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November 4th, 2015

by Nick Lippis, Lippis Consulting


A number of independent trends are driving a new age of software-defined networking and overall infrastructure. These trends include a new IT delivery model based upon cloud computing, big data analytics, Internet of Things and new IT delivery model. This trend is so massive that no army will stop its progression that’s rooted in the separation of network hardware from its high-value software. At the heart of this trend is realization that wide area and data center networking is transitioning to a software model which has implications that stem from how IT organizations are organized to how applications are delivered and maintained. We focus this white paper on the transition to software and the implications upon networking from a perspective of fabric and services, which connects servers and storage to the internet/intranet.

Lippis Report 223: An Open Approach to Network Automation

March 3rd, 2015

nick_podium2Modern day networking is labor intensive. Configuration, monitoring and change management are manual processes for the most part. In fact, at the last Open Networking User Group (ONUG) this past Fall at Credit Suisse, most IT business leaders said that one network engineer supports approximately 120 networking devices such as a router, switch, etc. Compare this to 20,000 servers that a single engineer manages at a hyper scale firm and you can see that networking needs automation. Manual networks are not helping IT business leaders who are feeling pressure from business unit managers demanding self-service IT delivery on par with cloud providers such as Amazon, Azure, etc., but without the implied loss of security, visibility and control. Case in point: at ONUG in Boston hosted by Fidelity Investments, large financial service firms showed what happens when they offer business unit managers on-demand virtual machine (VM) creation and deletion; the trend lines showed exponential growth, demand and consumption!

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Lippis Report 222: Cisco Preps ACI for General Availability: What to Expect

August 25th, 2014

nick_podium2One of the biggest networking events this August is the general availability of Cisco’s ACI or Application Centric Infrastructure. Cisco has been shipping its Nexus 9000 series of switches in what is called standalone mode, which is an ultra-fast data center Ethernet switch, since November 2013. Nexus 9000 orders tripled from 180 in Q3 to 580 at the end of Cisco’s fiscal fourth quarter. Cisco promised as part of the Nexus 9000 release that these switches can be deployed in what it calls “ACI fabric mode.” ACI fabric mode promises to reduce operational cost, increase agility and link applications to network infrastructure like never before. The manifestation of fabric mode is ACI, and it’s now entering general availability. In this Lippis Report Research Note we take a look at ACI from a point of view of what it can do for Data Center architects today.

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Lippis Report 221: HP Invests Heavy in Unified Wired and Wireless Network Infrastructure

July 28th, 2014

nick_podium2 Ever since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, mobile computing has never been the same. In just six short years, the smartphone industry is selling nearly 500 million devices a quarter, according to Gartner, and there will be 50 billion devices, including laptops, smartphones, iPads, tablets, non-IT devices, etc., connected to wireless networks by 2020. For the past several years, BYOD or Bring Your Own Device projects have been the largest budget spends for IT departments worldwide, thanks to each user connecting up to three devices on average with Wi-Fi being the preferred wireless network service. As mobility connectivity has been on the rise, wired connections to enterprise networks are still growing, albeit at a slower pace than prior to 2010. From a network design, operations and management perspective, these networks evolved at different paces and with separate management and operational models. The networking industry has been working to unify or converge wired and wireless management to ease operations, increase security and user experience. In particular, increasing complexity or operational cost is driving the need for unified wired and wireless, in addition to the increased use of Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud computing as a more flexible IT service delivery model. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review HP’s approach to unified wired and wireless networking.

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Lippis Report 219: What Is Happening to Open Networking?

March 18th, 2014

nick_podium2It was so simple; the separation of network hardware from software through a protocol called OpenFlow would open up the networking industry by injecting innovation into a vertically integrated industry. Specialized network hardware, called routers and switches, would give way to low cost white box alternatives, built in Asia, that were centrally controlled by software running on x86 commodity hardware. The networking industry would split into three parts: those that sold data forwarding gear, controller software and network applications. Well, that was 2010, and the reality is that this model of Open Networking has not materialized in the enterprise market—perhaps in a few operator and hyperscale networks, but not the real markets: the enterprise and public sector environments. Open Networking has taken on a life of its own. Overlays or virtualized networking are coming into their own; white box solutions without OpenFlow are being piloted in the enterprise and deployed in select cloud providers and operator networks; Linux is being considered as a network operating system to enable automation and normalize management tools across compute, storage and networking. The wide area, and in particular, branch office networking is about to undergo a fundamental change, thanks to new open networking solutions entering the market that promise radically lower cost, centralized policy provisioning control and service enablement. Hardware appliances are under attack in both branch office and data centers as vendors start to offer network service virtualization or NSV. Open networking security, or the lack thereof, is now coming into focus as is the killer SDN application: IP storage. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we provide a snapshot of the fast-pace changes occurring in Open Networking.
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Lippis Report 218: ONUG vs. OpenStack, Open Compute and ONF

February 24th, 2014

A quick look at the board of directors of the Open Network User Group will make it obvious that ONUG is driven by some of the world’s biggest IT business leaders of networking technology. Leading financial, insurance, retail and logistics companies are all active members of ONUG. That alone sets it apart from the many other organizations with “open” in their name. In keeping with their goals, all ONUG events are intentionally kept to a manageable size so that members can meet their primary objective – which is to network other ONUG members.

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Lippis Report 216: Arista’s 7500E Breaks Multiple Test Records In Most Comprehensive Review of its Spine Switch

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January 27th, 2014

NickBack in August of 2013 we reviewed the Arista 7500E in Lippis Report Research Note 212. Nearly six months later the Arista 7500E is the most widely deployed spine switch of this new class of 288 40GbE modular switches. Over the past few months the Lippis Report with Ixia tested the 7500E for layer 2 and 3 unicast plus multicast performance, congestion management, demanding cloud traffic performance, power consumption, the ability for its VOQ buffers to be adjustable, if its 64-Way ECMP hash works as advertised and performance tested its 100GbE Line Card. If you’re building a cloud network, then you need to read this report first. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we deliver the most comprehensive test and review of Arista’s 7500E modular data center spine switch.

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Lippis Report 215: Cisco’s Nexus 9000 Re-defines Software-Defined Networking

November 6th, 2013

nicklippis.jpgIt was back in February of 2013, during the Open Networking User Group, or ONUG, hosted by Fidelity Investments in Boston, that one of its board members told me “We could wake up in the morning and Cisco will have an open networking solution that changes the industry.” Well, November 6th 2013 was that morning. Cisco acquired Insieme Networks and with it, addressed networking’s biggest complaints that have been voiced far and wide; that is, data center networking is too over-subscribed, ridged and not flexible to support on-demand workload creation and movement. These and other complaints are perhaps best articulated in an October 2010 blog by James Hamilton, VP and Distinguished Engineer on the Amazon Web Services Team, titled Data Center Networks Are In My Way. Since then Insieme’s engineering team has redefined networking, as we know it, manifested in a product portfolio that will not only change networking but the IT industry. There are multiple value propositions embedded in the new Cisco product line, which I’ll cover here in the Lippis Report over the next few quarters. But for this Lippis Report Research Note, we review the new Nexus 9000 series of data center switches, which Cisco promises is the most port dense and power efficient plus fastest packet forwarder and programmable data center modular switch in the industry. The Nexus 9000 series represents a familiar starting point on the journey toward a new era in software-defined networking.

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Lippis Report 214: Open Networking Disrupts the Storage Market

October 21st, 2013

nicklippis.jpgThe dialog over open networking often goes something like this: The networking market is fundamentally changing. The established networking vendors will realize lost market share and revenue if they don’t open up. Network switching will become commoditized and offshored to Asia. While these may be true statements, one unknown inter-related trend is evolving, and that’s open networking will disrupt the storage market. The Storage Area Networking, or SAN market, and in particular Fiber Channel, is costly and difficult to configure. Ethernet networking has evolved to the point where early adapters, cloud providers and hyperscale firms are starting to consider transporting storage traffic over the same Ethernet network as user traffic. While 10GbE and 40GbE switching possess the attributes to support storage, open networking’s automation and programmability are the final pieces to the architectural puzzle to enable fully converged data and storage networking. Over the past year, VCs have poured 10s of millions into new IP storage firms to take advantage of this shift in the storage market, including Ceph by Inktank, GlusterFS, Sheepdog, SwiftStack, Scality, Hedvig, Riak CS and others. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explain the new open networking and storage market that’s emerging.

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Unified Visibility Fabric Architecture – A New Approach to Visibility

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October 21st, 2013

By Gigamon

Gigamon’s Unified Visibility Fabric architecture provides a new approach to monitoring and management of IT infrastructure. By centralizing tools and connecting them into the Visibility Fabric, significant cost savings and operational efficiencies can be realized. The Unified Visibility Fabric architecture provides pervasive visibility across campus, branch, virtualized and, ultimately, SDN islands and consists of four key components—Visibility Fabric nodes, Management, Orchestration and Applications, which when taken together provide a scalable, flexible and centralized Visibility Fabric solution.

IBM Expands Network Portfolio with SDN VE

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October 21st, 2013

By Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

As organizations continue to virtualize their environments and build out cloud environments, the requirement for more flexible and agile networks is becoming a priority. One of the more promising network architectures being developed to address these challenges is software-defined networking (SDN). Although this space is still being defined, one aspect of SDN, network virtualization, is gaining mindshare. This technology leverages a virtual switch, controller, and virtualization technology. IBM has just announced its offering in this area, called Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments or SDN VE.

Lippis Report 213: We Are Entering Software-Defined Networking 2.0

September 23rd, 2013

nicklippis.jpgIt’s been a few years now that the industry has been working toward delivering a Software-Defined Networking market. The model that kicked off SDN was a Stanford definition that split the data and control plane, connecting them via a new standard protocol called OpenFlow. As OpenFlow was being standardized, the open networking movement entered other parts of the networking market, such as virtualized networking, visualization, programmable networking and white box networking. A broader new SDN 2.0 model is emerging that includes a wide range of use cases and technologies that promise to fundamentally change not just the networking industry, but the IT value chain and, in particular, the storage market. At ONUG, SDN 2.0 will be front and center as ONUG Board of Directors including  Bank of America, CitiGroup, Gap Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, and other IT business thought leaders discuss how SDN 2.0 is impacting their IT infrastructure. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we provide a rough sketch of SDN 2.0. To get the full version, you need to come to ONUG!

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Ballarat Grammar Secures BYOD with HP SDN and Sentinel SDN Security Application

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September 23rd, 2013


Gregory Bell, Head of Technical Services, Ballarat Grammar said “The Sentinel SDN application takes away a lot of the manual labor that we used to do. We now know exactly where the infections are and how many there are—we can detect threats and respond in a proactive manner. That saves us hours of work every week.” Ballarat Grammar is a K-12 independent Anglican school located in Victoria, Australia. An extensive parkland campus hosts a flourishing community of 250 faculty and 1,400 students, with over 200 of the students living on campus in boarding houses. Ballart Grammar looked toward HP’s SDN portfolio to increase student and faculty productivity and educational opportunities by allowing users to bring their own devices and securely connect to the network.

Attend ONUG Academy and Increase Your Value in the Networking Job Market

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September 23rd, 2013

AttendONUGAcademy_NickGraphicThere is a fundamental shift occurring in network engineering skill set requirements as open networking and Software-Defined Networking technologies continue their rapid deployments. DevOps will have a larger role in network purchases. New network designs are emerging, thanks to virtual overlays, white box networking, Linux-based network-programming tools, OpenFlow based pSwitches and vSwitches, etc. The CCIE skills set is being augmented with SDN skills and know-how. To keep competitive and relevant in the networking industry job market, you need SDN skills. ONUG Academy offers five tutorials taught by the experts who are deploying and developing open networking/SDN standards plus technology, including:

T1: Understanding and Deploying Virtual Networks by: Srini Seetharaman, Technical Lead for SDN at Deutsche Telecom

T2: Getting Started with OpenFlow Deployments by: Brent Salisbury, University of Kentucky

T3: Integrating OpenFlow and OpenStack by: Rob Sherwood, Open Networking Foundation Chair of Architecture and Framework Working Group

T4: Understanding White Box Networking Architecture and Economics by: JR Rivers, Co-Founder and CEO of Cumulus Networks

T5: Writing SDN Applications on Popular Controllers by: Matt Davy and Chuck Black, Tallac Networks

These tutorials and instructors were defined and handpicked by the ONUG Board, respectively, who are sending their networking, virtualization and DevOps teams, so should you. Here’s a 3-minute video on why you should enroll in ONUG Academy.