Aligned, a colocation vendor, touts the pod approach as a way for enterprises to pay as they grow for their data center capacity. The approach also saves money on power and cooling, Aligned claims. The company has built two of these modular-style data centers, one in Plano, Texas, and the other in Phoenix.
Plexxi’s technology comes into play in several ways. It provides a data center network fabric that supports a modular approach and can scale out as needed. And it integrates with Aligned’s own data center visualization, management, and self-service portal tools.
Plexxi’s fabric also integrates with VMware’s virtualization platform and with OpenStack; it integrates with converged/hyperconverged infrastructure from the likes of Nutanix and Simplivity; and it also works with big data analytics platforms like Hortonworks and Cloudera.
Virtualization within a pod (typically between 20 to 30 racks) provides fluidity and maximizes capacity. According to Plexxi CEO Rich Napolitano, Plexxi’s dynamic fabric enables connections between pods and between different data centers.
“A lot of the algorithms for how you deploy applications for the rack are optimized for in the rack,” says Napolitano. “In our architecture, the cost for moving between the racks is virtually identical to moving within the rack.”
Aligned is using Plexxi switches along with the Plexxi Connect platform, in which APIs enable workflow integration across storage, compute, and network silos. Aligned is also using the Plexxi controller, which automates and orchestrates delivery of virtualized data, storage, and application traffic.
Plexxi has been stressing that it targets its products to cloud builders who look at the entire cloud infrastructure from the data center to the end user. And the company garnered some favorable press early this year when Google invested an undisclosed amount in its Series D funding round.
Asked if Plexxi was getting into the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) business, Napolitano says, “We’re a product company. We’re not a services company. We built technology to enable data center companies or cloud builders to build this infrastructure. We want to help them to build data centers in new ways.”
But it’s becoming unclear where to draw the line between network virtualization, cloud architectures, and data center design.
Verizon Uses Pods
For instance, Verizon is building a telco cloud with a core-and-pod data center design. It worked with Big Switch Networks but also did some of the pod architecting in-house. Verizon’s core-and-pod uses individually designed pods that hang off a routed core layer. Verizon chose the modular approach because it anticipates its data center environments will evolve quickly. New pods can be added without disturbing the rest of the data center.
The purpose of Verizon’s telco cloud is to advance its goals in network functions virtualization (NFV), based on an architecture that more resembles the webscale giants than a traditional service provider network.