Today’s business and government organizations are focused on digital transformation. As a result, dev-ops and business agility is at the forefront of most current strategic IT discussions. To deliver both, enterprise organizations have increasingly leveraged public cloud service providers and are now building on-premise clouds with infrastructure that delivers on three basic requirements:
1. Friction-free agility of physical resources
2. Control systems that maximize physical resource utilization and provide maximum ROI
3. Integration of the various infrastructure components for automated provisioning and resource management
While these requirements exist across the spectrum of infrastructure components (compute, storage, and network), the network plays a foundational role. The network acts as the glue between compute and storage, so the agility, control, and integrality of the network (or lack thereof) directly impacts an organization’s ability to maximize their compute and storage resources. Any bottlenecks in the data center fabric will negatively impact the organization’s ability to run applications efficiently and optimally distribute data. The more the network is in your way, the less business/mission agility can be attained.
Plexxi has created a data center fabric operating environment that leverages commodity off the shelf Ethernet switches and innovative software that forms a single distributed network without the limitations of traditional approaches. For enterprise customers, as well as cloud providers, this modern cloud fabric can be leveraged as a fully integrated data center networking solution (switches, controllers, etc.) for ease of deployment. For larger cloud providers, the constituent technologies are designed to be leveraged as a set of tools woven into the overall cloud orchestration strategy.
Traditional Networks Are Challenged by Today’s Scale-Out Applications
As scale-out converged infrastructure and storage deployments are growing, the data center network is experiencing unprecedented stress and strain from the newly introduced storage traffic and scaled- out applications. Traditional leaf and spine data center architectures, though perform well under normal circumstances, are ill equipped to handle the large volume of highly bursty and unpredictable east/west and north/ south traffic patterns that scale-out applications and storage introduces.
These legacy networks are static in nature, defined by their cabling, fragile and unaware of the newly introduced traffic types. They struggle to support growing pools of storage capacity that span across racks, rows or multiple data centers.
Converged Infrastructure and Storage Change Rules of the Game
The very nature of storage traffic is distinctly different from traditional client/server network traffic. Existing network architectures were built in an era where network traffic was predominantly north/south or client-to-server. As compute began to scale-out (multi-core), applications and storage also began to scale-out in order to unlock the potential of flash as well as to simplify the deployment of massive PetaByte (PB) sized file systems, object store or arrays. With this scale-out, the bottleneck has shifted to the network. The requirements placed on the network by modern flash systems, software defined storage systems (vSAN, ScaleIO, etc.) or scaled-out file systems like HDFS/Hadoop, NDFS, pNFS, are fundamentally different. Not only is storage traffic moving east/west and north/south, but also the requirement for consistent, low latency (low jitter) is exceptionally high. Storage Networks of the future must offer elasticity and low latency regardless of physical location (any rack, any row, any data center), but most importantly must be under software control with an awareness of the everchanging needs of storage.
It Takes a New Approach
Plexxi HCN™ offers a software defined, programmable fabric capable of dynamically allocating bandwidth. Through storage, data and application awareness the fabric adjusts, in real time, to the needs of specific traffic types enabling the creation and enforcement of application-level SLAs.
The highly meshed, software-definable fabric creates an elastic pool of network capacity. Data, application AND storage workload traffic is intelligently, efficiently and securely distributed across the entire fabric allowing you to use all of the network capacity you purchased, not just a small fraction of it, like leaf and spine approaches. With Plexxi, the scale-out of storage and converged infrastructure resources is seamless, empowering agility, efficiency and cost-savings through the enterprise.