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.

Low Latency Data Center Interconnect Using Infinera Cloud Xpress Optical Transport and Arista Data Center Switches

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November 4th, 2015

by Nick Lippis, Lippis Report Testing

In this Lippis Test Report we measure end-to-end performance for a data center interconnect (DCI) solution that included Infinera and Arista network equipment. A key take-away from this experience working with Infinera’s Cloud Xpress optical transport platform and Arista’s 7280SE-68 programmable switches it’s that high-performance, high-capacity DCI – at multiples of 100 Gb/s with line-rate throughput and low latency – is feasible and straight forward to deploy. Based on our test results and my observations, Infinera and Arista have engineered impressive products and a solid end-to-end solution that address enterprises that require DCI with high speed, low latency and low power consumption.

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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SDN at Citigroup Networking for Citi’s Software-Defined IT Infrastructure

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March 3rd, 2015

In this white paper, an overview is provided of some of Citi’s key data center and networking challenges and the role of SDN in Citi’s evolving data center infrastructure to address these challenges. Rather than being solely focused on software APIs and controllers, Citi is leveraging a holistic view of SDN, incorporating both physical and virtual networking. The company has defined a phased SDN technology strategy for data center networking, covering a physical networking fabric, network overlays, management and control and cloud orchestration.

Note that this white paper is available exclusively to IT executives. Apply to receive the paper here:

Open Networking Challenges and Opportunities

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March 3rd, 2015

The ONUG Board published the ONUG Use Case White Paper, “Open Networking Challenges and Opportunities,” available for download now. The white paper outlines a user mandate and requirements for the top three use cases as voted by IT users at ONUG Spring 2014.

Policy-Driven Infrastructure: Separating User Intent from Configuration Procedures

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January 28th, 2015

policy_driven_infrastructure_mike_sandeepThe focus on separating user intent from infrastructure is an important new insight into how cloud environments should be run.  To drive forward this approach, Group-Based Policy is currently being developed for both OpenStack and OpenDaylight open source projects. Mike Cohen, Director of Product Management and Sandeep Agrawal Senior Marketing Manager, both of whom work at Cisco Systems join me to talk about Group-Based Policy or using intent to manage infrastructure.



Duration: 21 minutes 17 seconds


Lippis Intro/Analysis @ : 00:10 sec


Question 1 @ 2:44 sec: Sandeep, What is GBP and what problem is trying to solve.


Question 2 @ 4:28 sec: Mike, What are the architectural components associated with GBP?


Question 3 @ 5:41 sec: Sandeep, How does GBP contribute to an open SDN approach?


Question 4 @ 6:48 sec: Sandeep, What does GBP mean for security and governance?


Question 5 @ 8:51 sec: Mike, Does GBP offer a means to automate network configuration and change management? 


Question 6 @ 10:23 sec: Mike, One part of GBP is that it gathers the state of the infrastructure.  How does it accomplish this, is there a state database that’s created?


Question 7 @ 12:20 sec: Mike, Does GBP assist in the creation of an application dependency map that can be shared across multiple IT teams, such as storage, networking, servers/virtualization and application development?


Question 8 @ 13:41 sec: Mike, How are the policies that are created configured within the products that make up the infrastructure?


Question 9 @ 15:09 sec: Mike, GBP is being adopted by OpenStack and OpenDayLight, but how will it be implemented by the vendor community within products?


Question 10 @ 18:03 sec: Mike, How does GBP compare to other efforts such as:  Congress and ONOS?

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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SDN at Citigroup Networking for Citi’s Software Defined IT Infrastructure

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July 28th, 2014

In this white paper an overview is provided of some of Citi’s key data center and networking challenges and the role of SDN in Citi’s evolving data center infrastructure to address these challenges. Rather than being solely focused on software APIs and controllers, Citi is leveraging a holistic view of SDN, incorporating both physical and virtual networking. The company has defined a phased SDN technology strategy for data center networking, covering a physical networking fabric, network overlays, management and control, and cloud orchestration. 

Note that this white paper is available exclusively to IT executives. Apply to receive the paper here

Application Performance in an Application Centric Networking World

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July 28th, 2014

podcast_3_artworkIn a fireside chat format, recorded recently at CiscoLive with Steven Shalita, Vice President of Marketing at NetScout we discuss how NetScout fits into the Cisco Application Centric Networking ecosystem and free discussion on the pros and cons of the major industry changes taking place. We chat about organizational models to optimize service delivery, why end-user experience has become such a high priority metric and how to measure it, how do to improve the success of rolling out new services, why should the network professionals care about application performance and how does Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Function Virtualization (NFV) change things?

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 217: It’s Network Service Virtualization in the Enterprise rather than Network Function Virtualization

February 13th, 2014

NickDuring the October 2013 Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting, the ONUG community prioritized nine use cases based upon budget development and propensity to buy. The top three use cases were open branch office networking, open overlay or network virtualization, and integrating layer 4-7 network services to eliminate appliances into overlay networks. All ONUG use cases can be found here. Of particular note is the integrating L4-7 network services ONUG use case as its main focus is the elimination of hardware appliance, be it in the branch office and data center. A knee-jerk reaction to this use case was to define it as Network Function Virtualization or NFV. But these discussions ended with the realization that NFV will not work in the enterprise market. In this Lippis Report Research Note, I explain why and introduce the term “Network Service Virtualization.”

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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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