Elsewhere at IDF, Ericsson was showing off something that might hint at what he meant.
It’s not really SDN, but it’s an application with a similar spirit of virtualization. On the HDS 8000, Ericsson is blending top-of-rack, aggregation, edge, or core ports onto a handful of fibers — eight per blade.
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In a sense, those roles don’t exist in the HDS 8000; the platform collapses the data center into two networking layers residing inside its rack. What’s important is that the physical I/O gets simplified; you no longer need one cable per port per switch type.
Silicon photonics, a long-awaited technology that began ramping up commercially in recent years, could shrink the optics inside all sorts of data-center equipment. What Ericsson is showing is that the technology can go further, letting equipment vendors rethink the way the data center itself is built.
Note that Ericsson isn’t using Intel’s silicon photonics. The company developed its own cards, as nothing appropriate was on the market yet.
Based on Intel’s Rack Scale Design, The HDS 8000 combines computing, storage, and networking, the latter being provided by partner Pluribus Networks. Ericsson considers the HDS 8000 and Rack Scale Design to be a step beyond hyperconverged infrastructure, because it goes beyond just controlling the elements of computing, storage, and networking together. Rather, all three were designed with each other in mind.
“The design centers around data, and everything about computing and storage is a feature around that,” Hoffman says.