Last summer, Big Switch introduced Big Cloud Fabric, its vision for “hyperscale networking for all,” as well as a broader goal to rebrand the company and embrace best practices to increase the draw of new and existing customers.
With Big Cloud Fabric, Big Switch took a cue from hyperscale data centers and rooted its mission in three areas: bare-metal switches, software-defined networking (SDN) control, and core-and-pod design. These principles now drive product creation at Big Switch, as the open, ease-of-use model resonated with customers.
Last fall, version 2.0 was released with an SDN-based fabric, more operational simplicity, as well as expanding use cases for private cloud, big data, and virtual desktop. It also marked the first bare-metal SDN fabric. The announcement today continues Big Switch’s “land and expand” strategy, introducing new features that the company hopes will resonate with current customers and attract more mainstream ones as well.
New features and capabilities in Big Cloud Fabric 2.5 build on what the versions before it have already introduced, but CEO Doug Murray says he looks most forward to a choice few:
Fabric Analytics: This new module provides a user interface to help navigate the back-end, including troubleshooting, analytic data, and network infrastructure management. “We added this module because you can roll back the clock and pinpoint what went wrong,” says Murray. “It allows you to get information about events, failures, tenant traffic stats, and so much more.”
vSphere and vCenter Integration: Murray said the original aim for Big Cloud Fabric was to use it with OpenStack (version 2.5 adds support for the Juno release), but a large Big Switch presence in Japan resulted in a call for integration with CloudStack starting last fall. Soon, demand for vSphere arose as well. Customers are looking to expand into different use cases and topologies, Murray says, so VMware support opens up a new front to explore. Support for KVM, Xen, and Microsoft Hyper-V/SCVMM are also new.
Dell/Brite-Box Support: While this one might be less surprising given Big Switch has been shipping Big Tap with Dell for a few months, Dell will now support Big Cloud Fabric 2.5. Dell has also partnered with Cisco, but Murray notes an integrated fabric on a Dell-branded white box (“brite box,” as Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner termed it) offers a lower price point with better functionality. Dell ON Switches, including the S6000-ON, will be supported, as well as Accton bare-metal switching.
Chaos Monkey Strikes
Murray also says Big Switch demonstrated the high availability of SDN through stress testing with Mirantis. Chaos Monkey testing (a term coined by Netflix) consists of forcing random failures within a complex infrastructure and figuring out the overall impact to application health. This involved pulling random links, switches, and other key components in Big Cloud Fabric 2.5 (42,000 simulated end-points and VMs, 650+ forced component failures, but who’s counting?), and still, Murray says, there was no detectable change in application performance. You can see the results here.
While Cisco has been educating the market on its Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), there still aren’t as many organizations choosing it as you might think, says Murray. “An integrated fabric on brite box offers a lower price point and the functionality is better,” he says. “This is a winning combination.” He also says Big Switch has been able to ride the education wave created by the Cisco ACI campaign.
Big Cloud Fabric 2.5 is available and shipping. VMware vSphere integration and Dell S4000-ON support will be made available later this quarter.