I’m pleased to report that BTI has become the latest company to publicly endorse the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) approach to designing data center networks. As regular readers of my blog know, IBM has released a set of technical briefs describing ODIN, which provides an approach to using open industry standards to create next generation data center networks. I’ve written, podcasted, and been interviewed many times about ODIN, all of which is linked from my blog. This approach to using industry standards as the preferred means to designing data center networks has been endorsed in this post from Chandra Pandey, Vice-President of Platform Solutions at BTI. Many thanks for this support of open networking standards; I’m sure we’ll have more to say about how to create these solutions with IBM and BTI technology in the near future.
Data Center Networking
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NEC endorses ODIN
During the 2012 InterOp conference in Las Vegas, IBM introduced a set of technical briefs describing the path towards creating an Open Datacenter with an Interoperable Network (ODIN). The approach of using open industry standards in the data center network was recently endorsed by NEC Corporation on their corporate blog. In particular, NEC mentions IBM's work with the Open Network Foundation (ONF) and their efforts to create software-defined networking standards (including both OpenFlow and network overlays) for next generation data center networks. I'm very pleased by NEC's support for software-defined networking and other open standards in the data center network, stay tuned to this blog or my Twitter feed to hear more about this and related topics.
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Huawei mentions ODIN during InterOp webinar
During a webinar presented at InterOp 2012 describing how to prepare your infrastructure for the cloud using open standards, Huawei has indicated their support for the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) approach. Huawei joins a growing number of companies who recognize that the best path forward for next generation data centers lies in the use of open industry standards and protocols. You can read more about the importance of open standards and ODIN in my earlier blog posts or through my Twitter feed. Stay tuned for the latest news from InterOp and the world of data center networking !
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Towards an Open Data Center with an Interoperable Network Part III – What have we done so far?
In support of networking solutions for open, interoperable data center networks, IBM has taken the lead in creating a series of technical briefs known as ODIN (from my last blog post) which describe the issues facing these networks, and the standards which can be applied to address these issues (for the complete list of materials, see the IBM System Networking website). So what is ODIN, and why does it matter ?
First, we should clearly state that ODIN is NOT a new industry standard, and does not compete with existing standards. Rather, the ODIN documents explain and interpret existing standards and describes best practices for incorporating standards into a multi-vendor network. It can be used to guide strategic planning discussions, help prepare a vendor-agnostic request for proposal (RFP), and clarify preferred technologies to optimize each aspect of the network design. Taking advantage of this material can promote buying confidence by letting administrators choose among multiple networking vendors and avoid incompatible offerings that lock them into a nonstandard architecture
ODIN addresses best practices and interpretations of networking standards that are vital to efficient data center operations. These methods and standards facilitate the transition from discrete, special-purpose networks, each with its own management tool, to a converged, flattened network with a common set of management tools. They represent a proven approach that has been implemented by IBM and others within their own data centers using existing products, as well as through engagements with industry-leading clients worldwide. The first release of this material includes features such as:
Industry standards supporting VM migration and flat Layer 2 networks, including features to enable VM migration and support alternative Layer 2 and 3 designs
Lossless, converged enhanced Ethernet (including IEEE specifications for data center bridging)
Extended distance connectivity between multiple data centers leveraging MPLS/VPLS and protocol-agnostic optical wavelength division multiplexing, including special consideration for ultra-low latency network requirements
Emerging standards for overlay networks featuring software-defined networking and OpenFlow, as well as emerging network overlays such as distributed overlay virtual Ethernet (DOVE)
Additional features and standards will be added in the future. For now ODIN has been endorsed by many leading industry companies and universities, and more are expected to participate in the future. Drop me a line if you’d like to know how your company or university can participate.
What do you think about an industry standard approach to networking? Give me your feedback below, or send a quick response to my Twitter feed.
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Towards an Open Data Center with an Interoperable Network Part II – What are we trying to fix?
Over the past several years, progressive data centers have undergone fundamental and profound architectural changes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the data center network infrastructure. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the problems with conventional networks, and next time we’ll introduce the fundamentals of an approach to deal with these issues.
Instead of under-utilized devices, multi-tier networks, and complex management environments, the modern data center is characterized by highly utilized servers running multiple VMs, flattened, lower latency networks, and automated, integrated management tools. Software defined network overlays are emerging which will greatly simplify the implementation of features such as dynamic workload provisioning, load balancing, redundant paths for high availability, and network reconfiguration. Cloud networks with multi-tenancy, resource pooling, and other features are becoming increasingly commonplace. Finally, to provide business continuity and backup/recovery of mission critical data, high bandwidth links between virtualized data center resources are extended across multiple data center locations.
Highly virtualized data centers offer greater resource utilization and lower costs. They can also simplify management if network issues such as latency, resilience, and multi-tenant support for public and private cloud environments are addressed. To realize the greatest benefits from virtualization, networks must be optimized to support high volumes of east-west traffic. This can be accomplished by flattening the network to a two-tier design, using Layer 2 domains to facilitate VM migration, and deploying network overlays to enable efficient virtual switches. While existing storage networks will likely continue in their present role for some time, the opportunity to converge networking and storage traffic is enabled by new lossless networking protocols that guarantee data frame delivery. Each of these exercises requires a non-trivial extension of the existing data network. Collectively, they present a daunting array of complex network infrastructure changes, with fundamental and far-reaching implications for the overall data center design.
The networking industry has responded to these changes with a bewildering array of standardized and proprietary solutions, making it difficult to determine the best course of action. IBM believes that the practical, cost-effective evolution of data networks must be based on open industry standards and end-to-end interoperability of multi-vendor solutions (for a few words on the importance of standards, see my last blog entry). That’s why IBM has recently published a series of technical briefs, endorsed by many industry leading companies, that lay out a path towards an open data center with an interoperable network (which we’ll call by its acronym ODIN….after the ruler of Asguard in ancient Norse mythology. Coincidentally, his symbol the valknut looks a bit like a 2 ties network topology).
Next time, we’ll give you an overview of the first series of ODIN documents and discuss why they’re important. Let me know the biggest problems in your network by responding to this post below, or for shorter problems on my Twitter feed.
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From the Abstract to the Concrete: 5 Reasons why SDN makes a difference
I’m very pleased that the IBM Smarter Computing website has agreed to host my latest blog on why SDN makes a difference for your business. Check it out and let me know what you think, or drop me a line on Twitter (@Dr_Casimer).
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ODIN Approach endorsed by Brocade
I’m pleased to report that Brocade has publicly endorsed the open data center interoperable network (ODIN) approach to designing data center networks. On May 8, IBM released a set of technical briefs describing ODIN during the InterOp conference in Las Vegas. This approach to using industry standards as the preferred means to designing data center networks is discussed further in Brocade's blog. Many thanks to Brocade for their support of open networking standards; I’m sure we’ll have more to say about how to build these solutions in the near future.
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ODIN endorsed by Extreme Networks
Earlier today, IBM released a series of technical briefs describing the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) during InterOp. The ODIN approach to open networking has been endorsed by Extreme Networks, and you can read about it in their blog post. Both companies share a commitment to open industry standards within the data center network, an approach which should benefit clients with a lower total cost of ownership and superior performance.
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From Wall Street to Watson – The 2013 Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture
This past week, I was honored to be invited to present the 2013 Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture at Penn State, and to meet with some of the faculty and students, including the Schreyer Honors College. This talk was presented as part of the lead-up for the 2014 Shaping the Future Summit. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with students about technology issues, and since we didn’t have time to take everyone’s questions during the event, I’d like to use this blog to respond to several questions that came in through Twitter during & after the lecture.
Question: “When it comes to ethics in innovation, how do you balance when something created for good can be used for evil ? “
I see you’ve been reading Google’s list of 10 things they know are true (not doing evil comes in at number 6). While I personally like their technologist version of the Hippocratic Oath for engineers (first, do no harm), there are often large gray areas in practice (for example, should Google refrain from deploying their technology in nations which censor the Internet as a protest against that activity, or should they engage in these nations and try to improve things from within the system?). These are not easy questions. For some techniques on dealing with gray area thinking, I’d recommend the Presidential Leadership Academy at Penn State; I had the opportunity to meet with these students during my recent visit, and was quite impressed by their level of engagement and understanding. As a technologist, we have an ethical responsibility towards the technologies which we help create and deploy. However, often we can’t foresee exactly how a given technology will be used, or misused, in practice (there’s a famous story that AT&T originally didn’t want to file a patent application on the laser, because they couldn’t understand what it had to do with telephones). I’d encourage you to always act according to your values, and I try to approach my leadership role in the same way. For more on values-based leadership, you might consider the book “Leadership in my rear view mirror” by former IBMer Jack Beach.
Question: “ If technology is so important, why isn’t there a bigger push for it in grade school ? “
In some places, there is a big push (particularly in countries outside the U.S.). In many other places, more needs to be done in order to update the curriculum and reflect the recent, growing importance of technology (for example, some states have firm requirements for high school graduation in subjects such as health education and gym, but no requirements for basic technical literacy). There are many reasons for this. Technology advances much faster than most elementary and middle schools can keep up. Changing the curriculum statewide requires significant effort (though programs like IBM’s sponsorship of P-TECH are making a good start, as recognized recently by President Obama). There are always financial, political, and other barriers to overcome in the real world. There are many schools experimenting with a broader STEM education curriculum, and international FIRST Lego League is part of that effort. There is also a growing recognition that the rules of higher education are changing as well, including recent efforts to develop very large online classes (MOOCs) delivered at very low cost. I think it’s important to provide students with an understanding of technology as a life skill. Even if they don’t plan to become engineers when they grow up, they will still need to vote on issues affected by technology, science, and math, including whether to believe the statistics from the latest election polls, whether they want to eat meat that’s been irradiated as a preservative, or whether we should invest more in manned or unmanned space exploration.
Question: “ What role does disaster recovery play in modern data centers ? “
There’s a lot of interest in disaster recovery, following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent array of natural and man-made disasters which have threatened major global data centers. I work on enterprise-class disaster recovery for Fortune 500 clients using IBM’s System Z platform, and I developed our qualification program for optical networking companies who want to have their solutions tested under these demanding conditions. Although most companies recognize the need for both disaster backup and business continuity, sometimes we need to be reminded of the business impacts which can result if these solutions are neglected or not tested and updated frequently. Large data centers need to carefully consider how much data they can afford to lose, how fast they need key functions to come back online after a disaster, and other factors so they can appropriately size their recovery strategy. I’m currently working on ways to use software defined networking (SDN) to rapidly re-provision long distance optical networks from wireless mobile controllers (such as a smart phone), so that you can move critical data around while you’re evacuating from a disaster site. We have a demo of this running at the SDN Innovation Lab in the NY State Center for Cloud Computing & Analytics, Marist College, NY, for those who are interested. You can also read more about disaster recovery in the latest edition of my book (insert shameless self-interested plug here), the Handbook of Fiber Optic Data Communication (4th edition, Elsevier/Academic Press).
It’s always a pleasure to talk with students about the future of technology. If you’d like to continue the conversation, drop me a line on Twitter @Dr_Casimer