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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Cisco Nexus® 9508 Power Efficiency Test

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November 6th, 2013

By Nick Lippis

Cisco launched its Nexus® 9500 series of data center modular switches, which Cisco promises offers not only the highest port density of 10/40/100GbE, and the most programmable and fastest packet forwarding modular data center switch in the industry, but the most power efficient too. To verify and measure the power efficiency claim, Cisco engaged the Lippis/Ixia team to test the new Nexus® 9508 modular data center switch for power draw at scale. We found that the Nexus® 9508 sets a new record in data center modular switch power efficiency drawing some 3.85Watts per 10GbE port at a scale of 1,152-10GbE ports populated in a single chassis.

Why the Nexus® 9000 Switching Series Offers the Highest Availability and Reliability Measured in MTBF

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November 6th, 2013

By Nick Lippis

At the Open Networking User Group (ONUG) this past October 29th and 30th, hosted by JPMorgan Chase in New York City and attended by over 500 influential IT and industry business leaders, virtualized networking overlays and the need for high performance plus reliable underlays was top of mind. With 2014 and 2015 being the years of open networking pilots and deployments, respectively, much focus was on high-density 40GbE spine switches from Cisco’s Nexus® 9000 series, Arista’s 7500E and HP’s 11900/12900. At ONUG, IT leaders expressed multiple drivers for high-density 40GbE spine switches, including connecting thousands to hundreds of thousands of servers at 10GbE, support for IP storage and the high-growth of virtual connectivity via network overlays, all over a high-performance and highly reliable underlay. In this Lippis Report Research Note we explore the three reference designs for building 288-40GbE spine switches based upon Broadcom Dune, Broadcom Trident II and the new hybrid, custom plus merchant silicon, with an eye toward reliability and available based upon component count and measured in terms of Mean Time Between Failure.

Nexus® 9000 Programmable Network Environment

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November 6th, 2013

By Nick Lippis

The definition of Software-Defined Networking being the separation of data and control plane offered little to DevOps professionals or network engineers seeking a programming environment to customize their network and automate opera¬tional tasks. With the introduction of the Nexus® 9000, Cisco is offering the most compre¬hensive set of network programming options that delivers programming tools through an enhanced version of the Nexus Operating System (or NX-OS), which ranges from direct switch programming via its built-in Linux BASH environment, open RESTful APIs with JSON and XML support, direct integration with Python, etc. Most network engineers will opt to enroll in a Linux programming course versus obtaining another CCIE certification after reading this Lippis Report Research Note. In this research note, we review Cisco’s new programming environment detailing its options, use cases and industry impact.

Cisco Nexus® 9508 Switch Performance Test

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November 6th, 2013

By Nick Lippis

Cisco recently launched its Nexus® 9500 series of data center switches which Cisco promises offers the highest port density of 10/40GbE and future 100GbE—the most power efficient, the
most programmable and fastest packet forwarding modular data center switch in the industry. To verify these claims, Cisco engaged the Lippis/Ixia team to test the new Nexus® 9508 modular data center switch. We found that the Nexus® 9508 sets new records in data center modular switch performance. In short, it’s the fastest modular switch under the Milky Way.

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

By HP

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.

Prepare for Software-Defined Networking Build the Foundation for SDN with OpenFlow

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August 11th, 2013

By HP

Read this paper if you are a CTO, CIO, IT manager, or network architect interested in making your enterprise network more agile and adaptable to changing business needs. This paper describes the benefits of software-defined networking (SDN) enabled by OpenFlow technology. SDN, enabled by OpenFlow, holds the promise of breaking the logjam in network agility by eliminating legacy human middleware and paving the way for innovation.

Lippis Report 210: HP Networking Is Poised to Capitalize on the Software-Defined Networking Market Transition

July 8th, 2013

nicklippis.jpgHP has been an industry leader when it comes to Software-Defined Networking (SDN) as it sees an opportunity to accelerate its growth in the networking market during a fundamental transition point. HP’s SDN strategy spans from the data center to campus and branch office networking. Its strategy includes solutions across all three layers of the SDN architecture, including the infrastructure, control and application layers.

HP’s SDN strategy is extended by inclusion of management as a critical element to enabling SDN adoption for greenfield and hybrid deployments. At the infrastructure layer, HP supports open programmable interfaces into its networking hardware portfolio. At the control layer, HP is releasing its Virtual Application Networks SDN controller in the second half of this year. At the application layer, HP has demonstrated and announced several compelling applications and use cases with real customer deployments. HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC) now also includes SDN management elements for each layer of the SDN architecture.

In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explore HP’s SDN strategy and offerings, and offer an approach to pilots and deployment.

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IBM Software-Defined Networking Solutions

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July 8th, 2013

by IBM

This quick two-page paper provides key drivers to SDN and IBM’s SDN plus OpenFlow product road map.