Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Ian Khan, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff

Blog Feed Post

Building a Plexxi Network

[This post is penned by Plexxi executive Bill Koss]

Two months ago I read an interesting blog post by Greg Ferro titled “Cheap Network Equipment Makes a Better Data Centre.”  At Plexxi, I am the person who leads our sales team and I found the post interesting because I think there is a lot of disinformation in the market regarding the cost of procuring networks.  Every week it seems I read a report or article on networking margins, port prices, market share, SDN, bare metal, leaf/spine, open source, linux, etc.  When I speak to customers, there is an equal amount of confusion and in my view it perpetuates the current state in favor of the incumbents.

As a level set, when a potential client asks: what does Plexxi do?  I tell them we build ethernet switches based on merchant silicon; we use Linux for an operating system, we use a photonic inter-connect fabric and distributed controller architecture.  Our switches speak ethernet and IP, just like all ethernet switches, but it is the controller and photonic fabric that make our switches different.  Together we believe that our technology results in a system that has transformative scale, performance, and efficiency advantages compared to legacy network architectures.

wrk-blog-pic1

Recently we provided a proposal to a potential client regarding their network.  As with Greg Ferro’s project, we provided an all in proposal that included cables, software, transceivers, switches, controllers, accessories, support costs and the fabric interconnect ports.  There were two design options based around the size of the interconnect fabric, which most people refer to as the spine or core.   I have condensed some of the details for reading ease, but I think this is a transparent description of the proposal regarding (i) the costs of building a Plexxi network and (ii) how it is different with the choice of two different fabric options, much like the blog post from Greg.  Here is the summary table of the network design options:

# 10G Client Ports $ Per 10G Client Port Fabric Size

OSR

Total 1 Year Cost

288

$1,223 2.88 Tbps

1:1

$384,950

1152

$1,223 11.52 Tbps

1:1

$1,539,800

2304

$1,223 23.04 Tbps

1:1

$3,079,600

432

$517 1.44 Tbps

3:1

$243,160

1728

$517 5.76 Tbps

3:1

$972,640

3456

$517 11.52 Tbps

3:1

$1,945,280

In a Plexxi network, we use a controller architecture.  Our controller computes efficient photonic forwarding topologies.  This type of architecture, often referred to as SDN, provides a number of benefits, but it begins with a fluid pool of capacity within the fabric.  The capacity in our photonic fabric can be allocated, reassigned and reconfigured.  Without providing a long technical description of how our controller operates, an important concept to understand is we use 100% of the fabric and we do not implement spanning tree or block links.  We compute forwarding topologies using multi-flow commodity, graph theory math; that is one of the jobs of Plexxi Control.  A Plexxi fabric can be used inside your data center and the use of a photonic fabric means the fabric can be extended to campus and metro area designs.  Here are a few points regarding our controller and fabric architecture:

  • The photonic fabric is managed as pool of capacity
  • Applications and workloads that are important can be assigned fabric capacity
  • Capacities can change, evolve and forwarding topologies can be diurnal
  • Controller based fabrics are deterministic as opposed to distributed state fabrics that take time to compute state, which may or may not result in an optimal design.
  • Controller based fabrics can centrally compute optimal paths and provide fast convergence by pre-computing failure recovery states

The use of a controller with a photonic fabric provides a number of scaling benefits.  The most obvious benefit is the linear cost curves in terms of price per client port.  The following chart shows the 10G client port cost in scaling from 400 to 3400 ports.

wrk-blog-pic2

The linearity of the Plexxi architecture in terms of client port cost can also be seen in terms of power and cooling.  In a Plexxi architecture, the performance of the network benefits when the controller tries to keep packets in the photonic portion of the network as much as possible, thus limiting silicon switch hops and incurring latency.  Uniformed latency and uniformed power consumption per client power are benefits of the Plexxi architecture:

wrk-blog-pic3

A question we often get is whether a Plexxi network requires a greenfield or can it be deployed in a brownfield.  The answer is there are no greenfields.  Plexxi networks have been deployed in a number of variations.  We have had clients deploy Plexxi in the spine, while leaving the legacy ToR and server connections in place.  We have had clients deploy Plexxi as a replacement strategy for the their leaf/spine network, thus collapsing a two tier or three tier network to a single tier.  We have had clients deploy Plexxi between data centers providing a single hop, load-balanced fabric between data centers.  Traditionally, most Plexxi customers connect our switches to legacy routers and switches using 10G or 40G ports.  We have a handful of customers who have extended the Plexxi fabric via DWDM connections to legacy optical transport platforms.

Another question I have been asked is whether or not our photonic fabric is proprietary.  The way to think about our photonic fabric is to compare it to the fabric modules found in traditional core and spine switches.  What we have done at Plexxi is to take the backplane capacity in spine/core switches found in multi-tier networks and distribute that capacity into each switch.  When you add port capacity, you add fabric capacity.  Five years ago this type of network design was not possible, only with the advent of the modern controller architecture coupled with low cost, multi-path photonic interconnects has it become possible.   The design objective of a Plexxi network is to manage the network as a resource pool that can be correlated with the needs of compute and storage.   We believe that networking is entering the era of plenty and that networks built with rich amounts of path diversity are building blocks of the new networks.  We believe this because that has been direction of compute and storage.  Compute and storage have entered the era of plenty and it is time for the network to enter the era of plenty as well.  The era of plenty for networking will be built using a controller architecture because a controller architecture combined with photonics, merchant silicon and Linux, is the best means to deliver the following benefits:

  • Simplicity: Single tier photonic network
  • High Utilization: Load balanced L2 fabric
  • Controller Architecture: Unified view of network fabric
  • Uniformed Low Latency: Direct connectivity
  • Faster Failure Handling: Pre-computed forward topologies that converge rapidly to target optimum
  • Elastic Network Capacity: Large-scale computation and path optimization through Controller enables fluidity of network capacity
  • Reduced Cabling: Simplified network element deployment and insertion

/wrk

[Today's fun fact: The average American/Canadian drinks about 600 sodas a year. Of course, the American version is 72 ounces compared to Canada's 12 ounces.]

The post Building a Plexxi Network appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bill Koss

Bill Koss is VP of Sales at Plexxi. Sales is about having a keen understanding of customer needs and matching them to appropriate solutions so that everyone benefits. The best salespeople are fluent in both business and technology, translating product into value. Vice President of Sales he has acquired these skills over a 20-year career in networking and information technology.

Plexxi is Bill’s fifth venture-backed startup, having successfully exited CrossComm, SDL, Sonoma Systems and Internet Photonics. Notably, Ciena acquired Internet Photonics in 2004 to include the CN4200 platform, which became a $1B+ product line. While with Ciena, Bill held a variety of roles including VP of North American Sales and VP of Global Partners. During Bill’s tenure at Ciena, annual revenue grew from $290M to $700M.

@ThingsExpo Stories
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...