Adva endorses ODIN
Following IBM's announcement this past week at InterOp, there has been a surge of interest in the recently proposed Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) technical briefs. I'm pleased to report that Adva Optical Networking, a leading wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) company specializing in WAN transport, has endorsed the ODIN approach on their blog. There's never been a better opportunity for cloud data centers to get in on the ground floor by designing their next generation networks around the best practices and open industry standards referenced in ODIN. We appreciate Adva's support of this direction, and look forward to working with leading industry networking companies to implement the ODIN design recommendations in modern data center networks.
BigSwitch adds their endorsement to ODIN
Following the recent release of the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) technical briefs at InterOp 2012, several companies have publicly pledged their support for the ODIN approach to open standards. Most recently, BigSwitch Networks has posted to their blog with a nice summary of recent open standards activities at InterOp, including their endorsement of the ODIN technical briefs. IBM deeply appreciates this show of support for open standards in the data center network, including the full breadth of software defined networking (SDN) approaches (both overlay networks and OpenFlow). IBM has demonstrated the industry's first 40G OpenFlow enabled switch, and continues to drive strong innovation in SDN and other aspects of the ODIN design approach. Keep watching this blog for more news on ODIN and InterOp 2012, or follow my Twitter feed.
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.
Ciena endorses ODIN
The list of companies endorsing IBM's recently announced Open Datacenter with an Interoperable Network (ODIN) continues to grow. Ciena is the most recent company to endorse ODIN, as noted in their blog post from their CTO and Senior Vice-President, Products and Technology, Steve Alexander. In this post, Ciena says that ODIN "looks to be a nearly ideal approach to allow the connect, compute, and store resources to be virtualized and operationally united for simplicity and scale". In fact, the use of industry standards to enable more tightly integrated solutions has been recently demonstrated in IBM's PureSystems offerings, which were announced on April 11; you can read more about PureSystems in my earlier blog posts. I'm very pleased that Ciena has endorsed the ODIN approach, and I'm sure we'll see more examples of this design approach in the coming months. Remember, let me know what you think about ODIN by commenting on this blog, or on my Twitter feed, and keep watching this site for the latest data center networking news.
Huawei says more about ODIN
As noted in a recent post on this blog, Huawei had included a mention of the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN) in their InterOp Webinar on open standards for cloud networking. In addition, Huawei has now posted a more detailed endorsement of ODIN on their blog site. According to this site, " ODIN addresses best practices and interpretations of networking standards that are vital to efficient data center operation". For those of you who haven't reviewed the ODIN materials yet, they include a description of the transformation taking place in modern data center networks and how to best address these issues using open industry standards. Keep watching this space for more news on ODIN and other data center networking issues.
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 !
IBM PureSystems: It’s all about the network - Part I
Every few years, IBM announces some major innovation in the way computers are designed, used or deployed. You might remember the transition from CMOS to BiCMOS mainframes, copper-doped ASICs, or open source Linux for the enterprise. Each of these represented a major shift in the way we think about and use computational power to accomplish a huge variety of tasks. Recently, IBM announced its latest innovation, the PureSystems platform of integrated servers, storage and networking.
By now, you’ve probably seen at least some information about how PureSystems accelerates cloud deployments, simplifies the data center, and consolidates computing resources. But, I’m a networking guy, so my view of the world is a bit different. Much like the famous view of the world as seen from New York City , when I look at PureSystems, I see a lot of advanced servers, storage, and software hanging off the true technological marvel – the integrated data center network.
At the risk of appearing a bit single-minded, I’d like to talk about one of the unsung heroes of the PureSystems revolution, namely the networking technology that ties PureSystems together. And then I’d like to point out that not only is the network a key part of PureSystems, it’s got the potential to drive the next series of big innovations on this platform, and maybe even across the computing industry.
Let’s start with a quick review of the PureSystems network.
First, it’s designed for flexibility; you can choose a combination of networking protocols, including Fibre Channel (up to 16 Gbit/second), Ethernet (10 to 40 Gbit/second), or InfiniBand (QDR and FDR data rates). You can plug up to four switches into a PureSystems chassis, and link multiple chassis together using the 10, 40 or 10/40GbE IBM System Networking RackSwitch top of rack (TOR) switches. This lets you scale PureSystems from a single chassis, up through multi-rack systems (where a rack can hold up to 4 chassis).
PureSystems also supports a virtual Ethernet switch running in the hypervisor, the IBM Distributed Switch 5000v. IBM’s virtual switches, blade switches, and TORs all support industry standards including switch-resident IBM VMready with IEEE 802.1Qbg to enable VM migration (either between VMs on the same physical server, or across multiple physical servers).
And, this platform makes really good use of server virtualization; each chassis can hold up to 14 half-wide blade servers or 7 full-wide blade servers, running your choice of workloads on Linux, Windows, or AIX. Yes, I said AIX…you can plug either IBM Power microprocessor blades or Intel x86 blades into a PureSystems chassis. With around 160 servers in a 4 rack system, even a moderately virtualized system can fit over 1,600 VMs quite comfortably. That’s a tremendous amount of compute power in a relatively small package, and it comes pre-integrated with a single system manager that lets you manage all the physical and virtual resources in the system (without any third party tools).
Now that we know a bit about the networking technology inside PureSystems, why should we get excited about it ? Tune in to Part II of my blog to find out! Meanwhile, let me know what you think about the importance of networking for integrated systems by commenting on my blog, or through my Twitter feed.
IBM PureSystems: It’s all about the network
Part II (Electric Boogaloo)
In Part I of this post, we looked more closely at the networking under the covers of an IBM PureScale system. We found that a reasonably configured PureSystems solution could comfortably support a whole lot of VMs in the space of only a few racks (no, I’m not going to repeat the numbers here; check out my last post for more details). I also promised to explain why networking would drive the next big innovations on this platform.
This dense packing of compute power is exactly why the network will be so important to the future of this system. Before PureSystems, large amounts of servers and storage would have to be spread out across the data center; network latency and physical distance would ultimately limit performance. Now that multi-core processors, advanced storage technology, and other features have made it possible to fit this much processing power into a few racks, we can take full advantage of Ethernet running up to 40 Gbit/s and Fibre Channel running up to 16 Gbit/s to realize very high bandwidth and low latency over short distances.
Now, imagine what happens in a few years as these trends continue. When the network can run 100 Gbit/second or faster, it becomes the highest speed interconnect on the platform. We’ll be able to interconnect more processors (each of which will also be more powerful than they are today and will host more VMs), with negligible performance impact due to the network. Multi-processor systems on the order of several thousand physical processors could become economically viable for many users, not just the most advanced applications.
At the same time, storage is integral to PureSystems, not a separate add-on from another company. In the future, server to storage access technologies previously reserved only for high performance computing can begin to trickle down into more commercial integrated platforms. And future integrated systems, enabled by the network, could then reach levels of parallelism and performance far beyond what we know today; think of how video games have brought the equivalent of a graphic supercomputer into your living room at very low cost. With latency between servers and storage becoming a non-issue, these systems would be ideal for processing the type of gigantic data sets which are showing up in financial, health care, retail, transportation, and a host of other fields. All of this stems from the PureSystems being rolled out now, so you get not only the immediate benefits of this platform but a path forward into even more powerful computing applications as time goes on.
Of course, when this happens everyone will marvel at the incredible advances in multi-core processors, multi-thread software, and other fields. But let’s not forget the standards-based, high bandwidth, physical and virtual networks under the covers of these systems that will quietly be doing their part to revolutionize computing, yet again.
What do you think the future of networks, or video games for that matter? Share your comments below, or respond to my Twitter feed
Juniper endorses ODIN Approach
I’m pleased to report that Juniper Networks has publicly endorsed the open data center interoperable network (ODIN) approach to designing data center networks. If you've been following this blog, then you know that 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 has been supported by Juniper, as discussed in this blog post from Liz King, Vice-President of Global Alliances. Many thanks to Juniper for their support of open networking standards; I’m sure we’ll have more to say about how these solutions should be designed in the near future.
Marist College endorses ODIN
In addition to the many industry leading companies who have endorsed IBM's recently released technical briefs, describing an Open Datacenter with an Interoperable Network (ODIN), the first academic endorsement of ODIN has recently come from Marist College (Go Red Foxes !). In their endorsement, Marist notes that their support of ODIN was part of their broader efforts to insure that the next generation of technology students are prepared for the challenges which await them. Marist also cited their related work with the National Science Foundation funded lab for enterprise computing, their network interoperability lab, and their cloud computing computational resources. Also commenting on ODIN as part of their Twitter feed were IBM Vice President Ross Mauri (a member of the Marist Board of Directors) and Marist Vice President and Chief Information Officer Bill Thirsk. I'm sure there will be opportunities for IBM and other ODIN supporters to work with colleges such as Marist on research and interoperability that will benefit the open design principles set forth in the ODIN documents.
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.
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.
ODIN Sets the Standard for Open Networking
"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African proverb
During InterOp 2012 in Las Vegas, IBM released a set of five technical briefs which lay out the path towards creating an Open Datacenter with an Interoperable Network (ODIN). This approach uses industry standards as the preferred means to address key issues in next generation data center networking. The response has been tremendous, and ODIN has been very well received across the industry. I've been posting a lot about this in my blog lately, but for your convenience here's the current list of everyone who's endorsed ODIN so far, in no particular order:
Juniper Networks noted in an endorsement from their Vice President of Global Alliances that there is an unprecedented array of technical challenges which ODIN will address, including cost effective scaling, highly virtualized data centers, and reliable delivery of data frames.
Brocade said that “using an approach like ODIN…facilitates the deployment of new technologies”
Huawei said that “ODIN addresses best practices and interpretations of networking standards that are vital to efficient data center operation.” Also, Huawei Fellow Peter Ashwood-Smith shows an ODIN view of the future data center network in his webinar for Interop, entitled “How to prepare your infrastructure for the cloud using open standards.”
Extreme Networks said in their endorsement that “Having open, interoperable, and standard-based technologies can enhance (these) cost savings by allowing choice of best-of-breed technologies.”
NEC noted that software-defined networking (SDN) is part of ODIN, and has emerged as the preferred approach to solving Big Data and network bottleneck issues.
BigSwitch said in their blog “The Importance of Being Open” that “ODIN is a great example of how we need to maintain openness and interoperability in next generation networks”
Adva Optical Networking in their blog on "the missing piece in the cloud computing puzzle" talked about the role of ODIN in the wide area network, including both dark fiber solutions, MPLS/GPLS, and emerging trends using SDN to manage cloud computing and the WAN. They also cited recent SDN work with the Ofelia project in Europe as an example of ongoing work towards open standards in the WAN.
Ciena pointed out in a post from their CTO and Senior Vice-President that “the use of open standards has been one of the fundamental “change agents” in the networking industry”. These standards are “associated with encouraging creativity by enabling a diverse and rapidly expanding user group” and “generally support the most cost-effective scaling”. They called ODIN “a nearly ideal approach” and said that ODIN “is on its way to becoming industry best-practice for transforming data-centers”.
Marist College provided a university’s perspective, as their CIO noted that their support of ODIN was part of their broader efforts to insure that the next generation of technology students are prepared for the challenges which await them. Marist also cited related work with their National Science Foundation funded lab for enterprise computing and their cloud computing computational resources.
Thanks to everyone for showing your support of open industry standards and the ODIN approach to data center networking. I’m honored and humbled by this strong show of support from so many industry leaders, and I’m very excited to be taking the first steps with all of you on this journey towards a more open, interoperable data center network. As we continue to develop more content for ODIN, both around new standards as well as deeper technical descriptions of reference architectures which implement the ODIN design principles, I’ll keep you posted on further activities with these and other companies.
Would you like to be next to endorse ODIN, and receive eternal fame and glory by being mentioned in my blog ? Let me know where I can point to your endorsement, or drop me a line on my Twitter feed
Software Defined Networking and 100G are hot topics at symposium
Last week, I presented some of my work at the annual North America Technology Symposium sponsored by Adva Optical Networks, at the Millenium Broadway Hotel in New York City. Regular readers of my blog will recall that Adva is among the many companies who have publicly endorsed the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN), which is IBM’s vision for next generation data networking. While the Adva symposium was admittedly focused mostly on their solutions, there were many interesting presentations of general interest. The presentations are available here, but Id like to review the highlights in this blog.
The symposium was a full day event, opening at 9 AM with a welcome from Adva’s CEO, Brian Protiva, followed by a series of invited speakers. After lunch, two breakout sessions were offered for either enterprise or carrier networking (I chose the enterprise track, which focused on 100G metro and 16G Fibre Channel SAN). The day wound up with a Q&A session and dinner.
First, one of the Vice-Presidents from Verizon discussed adoption of software defined networking to create what he called “service aware networks”. He cited several examples of how carriers and ISPs can leverage SDN to grow top line revenue and provide value added services. We heard many interesting factoids during the day, such as how Internet content consumptions, driven by video, will grow 10X by 2017. It was clear that commoditized hardware and centralized software control were creating an interesting value proposition in this market.
Later, my presentation dealt with using SDN to help manage the combination of exponential capacity growth and declining margins faced by many ISPs and cloud providers. In the past, networking was all about how quickly you could deploy, scale, and manage infrastructure to create value. Networking equipment was relatively feature-poor; a combination of low bandwidth, customer ASICs with low functionality and immature protocols in the data and control planes made it difficult to realize a higher value proposer. That’s all changing; modern Ethernet bandwidth is approaching that of a computer back plane, flatter 2 tier Clos or mesh topologies offer better performance, and protocols like TRILL and OpenFlow coax more value from merchant silicon. In this age of network affluence, users demand a higher quality of service, including bandwidth and latency guarantees, turnkey provisioning, and application aware network optimization. This leads to a new value proposition form SDN networks; virtualization of the data center network and beyond is the next big frontier. This value doesn’t’ come with out challenges though. Current OpenFlow is driving us back to a centralized management framework, and scaling is an issue. The benefits of a flow switched topology are clear, however, and include standardized, fine grain flow control, rapid application deployment, and end-to-end performance guarantees – real value that clients are willing to pay for.
From Michael Haley, IBM Distinguished Engineer, we learned more about how cloud computing is changing the world. Market dynamics are volatile; look t the world’s 10 largest companies from the year 2000,k and you’ll only recognize 2 of the same names on the list today. But the market potential is also growing; there will be over a trillion devices connected to the Internet next year. And smart enterprise CEOs are leveraging hybrid cloud in 60% of their installations (up from 33% just tow years ago). Cloud adoption is driven by workloads, and some analysts believe that a major section will be compute as a service, representing over 20% of a projected $55B market in 2014. Business analytics, social business, telecommunications, banking, mobile video, healthcare, and utilities dominate in different markets worldwide. In China, for example, strategic investments in “cloud cities” have been launched to support a major part of their current $4 Trillion, 5 year economic plan.
Supporting an earlier assertion about bandwidth growth, the enterprise breakout sessions included a live demonstration of 100G metro Ethernet and a discussion of the power, space, and cost for such solutions. Using a network test set and traffic source, Adva showed how they can transport 100G over metro distances with appliances about 1 U high that fir into a standard 19 inch equipment rack. Various cable configurations and latency measurements were also made during this presentation.
I’m sure by now you’ve got the general idea…Bandwidth is exploding in the metro area at lower cost than ever before, driven by new applications such as cloud computing and the promise of software-defined networking. Put on your shades, the future for metro optics looks bright indeed.
Are you looking forward to high bandwidth optical links in the metro cloud, or are you just blinded by the light? Drop me aline or send me a tweet @Dr_Casimer if you’d like to discuss more.
Talking Networking with System X & PureSystem Technical University
While I’ve been trying to enjoy the nice summer weather as much as anyone (even with teenagers, Disney World is simply awesome) the wheels of technology continue to push forward even during summer vacation. For example, IBM recently hosted the System X and PureSystems Technical University in San Francisco, California. With over 27 major sponsors and exhibitors ranging from Intel to QLogic, this was an event worth attending. As usual, my interest lies in all things related to data center networking, so I was pleased to see more content on IBM’s Storage Volume Controller (SVC) presented by one of our business partners, Brocade (although IBM invented SVC some time ago, Brocade was only recently qualified to support stretch clusters as part of this solution). Regular readers of my blog will recall that Brocade is among the endorsers for the Open Datacenter Interoperable Network (ODIN), and that the SVC Stretch Cluster solution was discussed previously when I presented at the IBM Storage Edge conference in June. I’d like to mention a few additional features of storage networking using SVC that didn’t make it into my earlier blog, and try to segue from Disney World to World Wide Port Names (let me know how you think this works out).
If you missed this event and would like to follow along, the presentation from Brocade can be accessed at the IBM Tech University site; once you’ve created a login, just search for presentation evr51. You can also catch up on this solution through the IBM storage roads show making its way around the country for the next month or so.
Multi-site storage deployments are useful for many applications. These include improved physical security, disaster avoidance/recovery, and increased uptime by moving workloads to different compute centers. The IBM SVC Stretch Cluster solution aligns your storage access needs with virtual machine mobility across extended distances. The actual distance depends on your latency requirements; since we can’t get around the speed of light limitations (yet), for typical applications IBM recommends 100 to 150 km or so, although the solution is qualified up to 300 km or more. SVC Stretch Clusters provides read/write access to storage volumes across multiple sites, and works in concert with Tivoli management products to insure synchronous data replication. Also, SVC supports SAN routing with industry standard FC-IP links for intercluster communications and volume mirroring within split cluster groups. The underlying IP infrastructure complies with ODIN best practices, and includes Brocade offerings such as the MLXe switch to provide line rate 1, 10, and 100 Gbit/s Layer 2 connectivity based on MPLS and VPLS/VLL.
Digging down into the technology a bit further, Brocade supports the IBM 16 Gbit/s Fibre Channel adapters used in System X solutions; both single and dual port options are available, running over 1,000,000 IOPS per adapter. These adapters support features including SAO (application quality of service assignment), target rate limiting, boot over SAN, boot LUN discovery, NPIV, and switched N_ports. The IBM Flex systems include embedded offerings such as a 24 port or 48 port scalable SAN switch, also running 16 Gbit/s links with over 500,000 IOPS per port. The SAN switches used in SVC provide additional buffer credits to support long distance connectivity (half a dozen ports running up to 250 km without performance droop, with negligible droop up to 300 km or longer). To reduce the number of fibers required between sites and save cost when connecting two remote locations, you can consolidate up to four lower data rate links into a single inter-switch link at 16 Gbit/s, and then logically combine up to eight ISLs into a single high performance frame-based trunk.
When using the Brocade Fibre Channel adapters in a fabric, it’s possible to eliminate fabric reconfiguration when adding or replacing servers. You can also reduce the need to modify zones and LUN masking, since you can pre-provision fabric ports with virtual worldwide port names ((WWPNs) and boot your LUN zones, fabric zones, and LUN masks. It’s easy to migrate virtual WWPNs within a switch, and map them to physical devices to help with asset management. Further, you can use diagnostic port features to non-intrusively verify that your ports, transceivers, and cables are in good working order, reducing the fabric deployment and diagnostic times from days to a few hours or less (depending on the size of your fabric).
If you’d prefer to connect multiple sites using wavelength multiplexing (such as the offerings from ODIN endorsers Adva, Ciena, or Huawei) you can run ISLs directly over a WDM network. I’ll have more to say about WDM solutions qualified by IBM in a future blog. For now, here’s a quick tip for configuring your Brocade switch fabric: if you want to run line rate 10 Gbit/s from the Brocade SAN switch directly over WDM, the first 8 ports on the FC16-32 or FC16-48 switches can be configured to operate at this data rate – you can save a slot in the DCX with this configuration. And remember that you can always logically partition the switches to isolate different traffic types, so you can connect storage resources in a PureFlex with a larger existing SAN that might be running your System Z FICON traffic, and keep the two applications isolated from each other.
Your SVC Stretch Cluster solution compliments the integrated compute power of PureFlex, and both of them can co-exist in your data center. All the PureFlex resources are managed from one point with Flex System Manager (FSM), and the use of open industry standard protocols mean that you’ll be getting the lowest possible hardware cost. Of course, you knew all that if you made it to PureSystems Technical University for your summer vacation, so you can get started saving money and improving storage performance right away. If you missed it, don’t worry…IBM will be offering more technical university events in the coming months, spread around the world, for not only PureSystems but many other brands as well. If you can attend, drop me a line & let me know how you liked it; I’ll keep everyone posted on the feedback through my blog & Twitter feed.