IBM System Networking Sets the Pace with Standards-Based Network Virtualization Automation
With the vast majority of IT organizations now implementing virtualization, clients are seeking to dramatically reduce cost and complexity in highly virtualized data centers. In today’s data center environments, server virtualization is managed separately from physical servers, requiring the collaboration of server, network, storage, and security administrators. Data center managers are seeking a consistent networking environment across virtual and physical environments, so that virtual and physical servers can use the same configurations, policies and management tools. Network policies should migrate automatically along with mobile virtual machines to ensure that security, performance and access remains intact as virtual machines move from server to server.
To extend IBM’s industry-leading innovation in network virtualization management and automation, I am happy to report that IBM System Networking has delivered the new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) 5000V to solve these emerging client needsUsing this server-based technology, clients can implement standards-based network virtualization in today’s I/O-intensive virtual switch environments. Using IBM’s innovative VMready virtualization-aware networking on the IBM RackSwitch and BladeCenter switches along with the IBM DVS 5000V as the virtual switch in VMware environments, clients can radically simplify and automate virtualization management. VMready works with all the major hypervisors and supports the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard for automating Virtual Machine mobility. VMware clients can further optimize and automate virtualization management with more advanced capabilities using the new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V.
Key aspects of our new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V include:
• Large-scale server virtualization by providing enterprise-level switch functionality in the hypervisor
• Advanced networking features not available through base vSwitch
• Mobility of VM security and network properties
• 802.1Qbg standards-based unified management of VM network policies across the virtual and physical network
• Network administrators can manage and provision network settings at the virtual machine level
• Flexible and scalable to a large number of ports
The IBM System Networking Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V is an advanced, feature-rich distributed virtual switch for VMware environments with policy-based virtual machine (VM) connectivity. It enables network administrators familiar with IBM System Networking switches to manage the IBM DVS 5000V just like IBM physical switches using advanced networking, troubleshooting and management features so the virtual switch is no longer hidden and difficult to manage.
Support for Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) based on the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard enables scalable, flexible management of networking configuration and policy requirements per VM and eliminates many of the networking challenges introduced with server virtualization. The IBM DVS 5000V works with VMware vSphere 5.0 and beyond and interoperates with any 802.1Qbg-compliant physical switch to enable switching of local VM traffic in the hypervisor or in the upstream physical switch.
Do you see your clients’ initiatives to implement massively virtualized infrastructures requiring a new level of network virtualization automation and management? Do you see standards-based networking as a key enabler for their next-generation network topologies?
IBM System Networking Wins Golden Bridge Award for Business Innovation
I am delighted to report that IBM received the 4th Annual Golden Bridge Award for Business Innovation. The award was given for System Networking’s IBM RackSwitch G8264 with OpenFlow. IBM is leading the way in driving one of the foremost innovations in business technology -- Software Defined Networking (SDN). IBM is one of the first vendors to implement a new data center networking protocol known as OpenFlow for the enterprise. Software Defined Networking using OpenFlow has been standardized through the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) with the collaboration of global network and cloud operators, universities and research labs, and led by IBM and other industry leaders.
SDN enables the separation of network intelligence from the underlying network hardware -- using interoperable software to make the system network more agile, optimized and responsive. The IBM RackSwitch G8264 with OpenFlow supports the rise of Big Data, in which applications, workloads and systems are continuously generating vast amounts of information. Today’s networks are based on hardware, and thus can be too static to support today’s torrent of information. Software Defined Networking promises innovations to turn today’s networks into programmable infrastructure with the flexibility of today’s computers.
With the new IBM Programmable Network Controller
and OpenFlow-enabled RackSwitch G8264, IBM is one of a very few vendors to offer a complete SDN solution. IBM’s SDN solution is enabling greater control over data center infrastructures. This enables data center and network operators to employ a software-defined network fabric with workload-prioritized performance, optimized quality of service and pattern-based system integration.
Congratulations are in order to everyone on the IBM System Networking team who work so hard to deliver innovation every day for the world’s most demanding clients.
For more information about the IBM RackSwitch G8264, OpenFlow, Software Defined Networking and the coming new breed of Virtual Application Networks (VANs), please see:
IBM System Networking’s Vijoy Pandey Named IBM Distinguished Engineer
I am extremely please to report that my esteemed colleague and long-time collaborator Vijoy Pandey, IBM System Networking’s CTO for our Network OS and Switching, has been named an IBM Distinguished Engineer. I have had the pleasure of working with Vijoy across the past decade at Alteon Networks, Nortel, BLADE Network Technologies, where he joined me as one of our original employees, and now IBM, where he continues to lead the development of the IBM Networking Operating System and champion innovations such as our VMready virtualization automation software.
Vijoy’s recognition as an IBM Distinguished Engineer recognizes his outstanding technical contributions and leadership and puts him in the illustrious community of 500 other IBM Distinguished Engineers. Vijoy serves as a key link between IBM System Networking and the rest of our Systems and Technology Group, and has become a key "go-to" networking expert. Vijoy and his team help IBM drive innovation at the systems networking level, enabling clients to speed the delivery of key information from system to system -- for workloads such as analytics and cloud computing -- while also reducing data center costs. Vijoy is clearly a technical leader of the networking field, is well known across the industry and has proven to be a critical resource to IBM.
Vijoy holds a Ph.D. in Wireless and Cellular Networks from the University of California, Davis and a technical degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. In addition to his exceptional technical acumen, Vijoy is an accomplished photographer. You can see some of the wonderful images captured by Vijoy and his wife Rachna at varp.net. Please join me in congratulating Vijoy for his well-deserved recognition as an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
IBM System Sets New Low-Latency Record for Real-time Market Data over 10GbE
In the world of High-Frequency Trading (HFT), opportunities exist only fleetingly and therefore trading solutions must run at the lowest latency to be competitive . Low-latency 10 Gigabit Ethernet has become the interconnect
of choice for HFT solutions. IBM and Mellanox have demonstrated a solution that
performs at high throughput rates and low latency to facilitate High-Frequency
I am happy to report that an IBM system has set a new record in low-latency messaging performance for Ethernet networks based on
the latest STAC-M2 benchmark test conducted by
Mellanox. The record was achieved using IBM x3550 servers running IBM’s WebSphere MQ Low Latency Messaging (LLM) technology using
Mellanox ConnectX-2 EN 10GbE NICs with RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) and the IBM BNT RackSwitch
G8264 10GbE switch.
The IBM and Mellanox solution outperformed the most recent record holder (based on a comparable configuration), achieving a 30% improvement
over results that were announced just two months ago. The benchmark results highlight an enhancement in latency reduction and scaling of messaging
performance, validating IBM and Mellanox’s performance leadership for high-performance connectivity to data centers in the financial services
STAC-M2 is a vendor neutral benchmark set by the Securities Technology Analysis Center (STAC) Benchmark Council, a consortium of
financial and trading industry participants that sets testing standards and supports performance improvements for technology used in capital markets.
This STAC benchmark demonstrates that IBM and Mellanox are addressing the performance requirements of the financial services industry by providing financial services enterprises with innovative server,
storage, software and networking solutions that meet their customers’ needs for fast transactions and value-added services.
STAC Benchmark Council members with a premium subscription can request the full STAC® Report. The report highlights are available to the
public. For more information, read IBM’s white paper about this impressive
low-latency solution for High Frequency Trading. Find more information about IBM System Networking’s low latency solutions here.
IBM’s Global CIO Study: Cloud is Ready for Prime Time
IBM has conducted its most recent Global Chief Information Officer Study– “The Essential CIO” – based on a poll of 3,000 global CIOs. Published in IBM’s centennial year, it is a definitive study of trends among CIOs from organizations of all types and sizes in 71 countries across 18 industries.
According to the study, one of the more interesting results over IBM’s Global Chief Information Officer 2009 study is that cloud computing has come of age with interest in the cloud increasing more than any other CIO priority. This 2010 study shows that 60 percent of organizations are ready to embrace the cloud over the next five years, an increase that is nearly double that of the 2009 study.
One of the reasons for embracing the cloud is that CIOs reported that their companies are seeking simple, meaningful and direct access to their enterprises’ Big Data –terabytes and petabytes of information, and the applications that cloud computing can deliver in a cost-efficient manner. While early cloud deployments typically addressed inter-departmental requirements, cloud computing has now become more widely used to connect organizations and their partners and customers.
The study research suggests that CEOs and CIOs are increasingly on the same page as CEOs better understand the importance of technology. Thus, They CEOs are increasingly relying on CIOs to turn today’s complex and changeable Big Data into usable information, information into intelligence and intelligence into better decisions. This is bringing CEOs and CIOs increasingly on the same page, as CEOs better understand the critical importance of technology for business success and competitiveness.
As one respondent noted: “Importantly, the role of CIO is not being looked on as ‘Chief IT Mechanic.’ It is recognized as a means to extract value from technology and gain insight from complex systems,” said Mark Hale, Director of IS for Food Retail, The Co-operative Group.
At IBM System Networking, we are focused on optimized systems that remove the barriers to cloud computing so that CIOs can turn vast amounts of data into business insights and enhance services and innovation. By speeding the transfer of data to and from servers to servers, servers to storage, and analytic engines, such as Netezza’s TwinFin Data Warehouse Appliance, IBM’s high-performance, virtual, scalable, standards-based and easy-to-manage system networking solutions are already fueling this cloud revolution in the world’s largest public and private enterprises.
The IBM Global CIO Study makes it clear that we have indeed entered a new era of IT where enterprises are vitally interested in IT infrastructure that is designed for Big Data, tuned to the task, and managed in the cloud – we call this new era Smarter Computing. In upcoming blogs, I’ll take a deeper look at the role that cloud computing, optimized systems and Big Data play in enabling Smarter Computing. Continue the conversation with us at ibm.com/theessentialcio.
IBM’s “Blue Pods”
With standardized components available for virtually every element of IT infrastructure from server to storage and network to rack, it’s perhaps no surprise that the standardized data center or “Pod” is becoming increasingly popular. For example, IBM’s Portable Modular Data Center is a data center in 20- or 40-foot shipping container that can be located anywhere that power and chilled water can be delivered. Other “Blue Pods” include the Enterprise Modular Data Center, a standardized raised-floor data center that can be built out in modules of 5,000 to 20,000 square feet, and the Modular High-Density Zone, which can convert an existing raised-floor space into an area that can deliver more computing capacity and power density.
As organizations struggle to handle growth in existing data centers, most organizations need to install and operate high-density computing to keep up with IT demands. However, the majority of today’s data centers are not designed to support high-density computing. So, these modular data centers offer a quick-to-deploy high-density solution with exceptional energy efficiency. And these modular approaches are ideal for organizations that want affordable capacity on demand. A Portable Modular Data Center can be designed, built and drop-shipped in as little as a few weeks to any location in the world, and does not require onerous capital outlays.
An IBM Portable Modular Data Center can cost up to 30 percent less to design and build compared to custom raised floor solutions, and can have up to a 50 percent smaller footprint. These Blue Pods are open, using industry-standard 19-inch racks and can house 1,428 blade servers or 1,178 IBM iDataPlex servers per container. This high-density compute power requires equivalent networking capacity. And this is where IBM System Networking is an ideal complement. IBM System Networking RackSwitch products consume power equivalent to standard light bulbs and are designed with server-friendly airflow that matches the hot-aisle/cold-aisle designs of the modular data center. IBM BladeCenter switches consume even less power and are tightly integrated with the BladeCenter architecture. Our VMready switch-resident software provides the networking capability to equip the Pod for the challenges of virtualization.
As CIOs remake IT infrastructures into more agile and automated environments that can respond to complexity with operational flexibility, Blue Pods support change while helping to mitigate associated risks. They help to address the continuing pressure to do more, faster and better – with less. In many cases, Pods enable organizations to accelerate their preparations for increasing complexity without requiring a significant expansion of existing IT operations. And Pods address the imperative to do more, faster and better—with less. Pods enable the data center to perform as the engine of business growth. And that’s what smarter computing is all about.
Take an online tour of an IBM Portable Modular Data Center.
Interop Las Vegas is Showcase for IBM’s Collaborative Innovations
Interop is a singular event that galvanizes our industry. This year at Interop Las Vegas May 8-12, IBM System Networking will showcase the latest developments in collaborative innovations for Smarter Computing. For example, the emerging OpenFlow specification promises a greater level of intelligence in Ethernet networks through a new approach called Software-Defined Networking (SDN).
OpenFlow is being promoted by the Open Networking Foundation formed by six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo! — as well as 17 member companies, including IBM and other major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers and chip technology providers. We are proud to be one of the inaugural members of the Open Networking Foundation, which again demonstrates IBM’s long-standing commitment to open industry standards, which are essential for the Smarter Computing that powers a Smarter Planet.
At Interop Las Vegas, IBM System Networking and NEC will show in NEC’s booth #904, for the first time publically, a proof-of-concept demo of an OpenFlow-enabled high-performance IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 working in concert with an NEC OpenFlow controller. IBM will also participate in the InteropNet OpenFlow Lab, which will educate attendees on the principles, functions and features of OpenFlow.
IBM is also actively involving in open standards to better equip enterprise data centers for server virtualization. Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) technologies, including the new Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA) technologies now being defined by the IEEE 802.1Qbg working group can make it easier for businesses to achieve server-network edge virtualization in the data center.
IBM’s Renato Recio is a driving force behind the 802.1Qbg standards, yet another of Renato’s numerous contributions to important industry standards that have dramatically simplified the way virtualized data centers operate. Renato was recently named an IBM Fellow, IBM’s most prestigious technical honor, recognizing his outstanding career of innovation that has so far resulted in 97 patents issued and 80 patents pending. I am proud to have Renato as a key member of our IBM System Networking team.
IBM System Networking’s switch-resident VMready with Virtual Vision is a unique EVB-ready solution that enables the network to be Virtual Machine aware, so that a data center network environment be configured, managed and secured for thousands of mobile Virtual Machines.
If you are attending Interop Las Vegas, May 8-12, please visit IBM in booth #621 to find out more about our leadership in collaborative innovations, such as OpenFlow and Edge Virtual Bridging.
IT in 2011: My Predictions
As we enter 2011, businesses are busily refining strategies for harnessing and leveraging IT in the year ahead and beyond. It’s crystal ball time once again, so based on countless interactions with CIOs, industry analysts, vendor executives and other thought leaders over the course of the past year, here are my predictions for the top trends that will impact IT in 2011.
The Need for Speed is Relentless: For IT departments, the need for speed comes in two flavors: How fast can we provision IT infrastructure to process a given workload? And, how fast can we process the workload itself and turn data into actionable information? Cloud computing affects speed of provisioning by enabling rapid deployment of certain application services via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Speed does not kill, slow kills. Here is what I mean by that - businesses are going to survive and thrive because their IT infrastructure is fast and agile.
Fabric-based Infrastructure Gains Traction: Converged data and storage network fabrics will move from prototype to deployment as the Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards become well understood and iSCSI and FCoE networks move into the mainstream. Fabric-based infrastructure that abstracts processors, network bandwidth and storage into federated pools of easily deployable IT infrastructure will move from lab trials to mainstream deployment.
Virtualization Deployed for Production Workloads: A recent IDC survey found that customers are looking to not only increase the use of virtual servers, but also to increase the number of virtual machines per physical server. IDC forecasts that virtualized server shipments will grow at twice the rate of the entire server market through 2014. I predict that a significant part of this growth is going to come from virtual servers becoming a popular platform for mainstream applications. And, with solutions like IBM System Networking’s VMready, data center networks that tie together servers running these mainstream applications can now be made Virtual Machine-aware, thus removing a critical barrier that prevented enterprises from not being able to virtualize their mainstream applications.
Time Sharing at a Bureau is Back in Fashion: The tremendous interest in cloud computing is warranted because of the cloud’s promise of greater ROI and improved efficiency. SaaS-based application delivery will continue to gain in popularity in 2011 as a ready means of cost reduction, and simplicity. It’s a proven model, people….remember the 80s when enterprises shared CPU cycles on a large mainframe in a data processing bureau? Driven by privacy and regulatory concerns surrounding mission-critical data and customer information, enterprises will turn to the hybrid cloud model, deploying private clouds for essential information and using hosted and/or public clouds for less-critical data and applications, where the cloud can provide cost reduction and capacity on demand.
The Data Center Becomes Ever More Strategic: With less-essential workloads offloaded to the cloud, the in-house data center will become a highly leveraged business asset. The data center will operate a mix of dedicated processing, virtual servers and private cloud computing, with each considered a strategic IT asset. The in-house data center will be looked to for the advantages of what I have termed “rackonomics” for the greater ROI and improved efficiencies that come from deploying standardized racks of compute, storage and networking infrastructure, and will also be valued for what others have termed “cloudonomics” and “convergonomics.” Regardless of the economic model, for many industries and IT tasks, the in-house data center will remain a strategic business asset.
Security and Mobility will Redefine the Data Center Edge: Enterprises and their customers are using smart devices, such as iPads and smart phones to access corporate applications, in record numbers. This ubiquitous use of mobile computing will require ever greater amounts of bandwidth and place greater demands on the network, both in terms of security and mobility.
2011 is the Year of Smarter Systems: A smarter system is one that is optimized for a given workload and one where all the essential elements – compute, storage, software, and the network that connects all these pieces together is pre-packaged in a rack or multiple racks ready-to-use. All the customer needs to do is plug this system into an electrical outlet and start using it….just like we use our laptops today.
Real-Time Analytics Drive Business Decision Making: More powerful computers and faster networks will enable businesses to make more-informed decisions. It will become increasingly possible to run predictive simulations and real-time business analytics that forecast futures, rather than to simply provide after-the-fact analysis, which promises significant breakthroughs in business results. For example, GM is using high-powered IBM computers to simulate crashes and find ways to both prevent crashes and improve passenger safety when collisions/accidents occur.
Data Centers Will Become the Most Expensive Piece of Real Estate Anywhere in the World: With so much capital being invested in IT infrastructure, the “occupancy rate” of the data center will remain a key concern. Blade servers will increasingly give IT departments the flexibility they need to add incremental compute power and enable higher utilization in the data center. Blade server architectures will continue to gain in acceptance and market share in 2011. I also expect a new wave of blade center technology innovations to take hold in the latter part of 2011.
All-in-all, 2011 is most certainly going to be the year of Information Technology and a very promising one at that.
Networks Go Flat So Data Can Go Faster
Today’s application requirements place new demands on the data center network fabric to deliver non-stop, ultra-low latency traffic flows. This traffic is increasingly “east-west” in nature to enable server-to-server communications versus the “north-south” traffic that characterizes conventional client/server and Web-based application environments. In fact, today, as much as 80 to 85 per cent of the traffic in cloud and virtualized server infrastructures – moves from server to server.
Deployment of the network fabric to serve these “east-west” requirements ideally begins at the edge of the network, close to servers, applications, users and innovation. So, today’s evolving data center architectures start with building out the fabric at the edge, connecting multiple blade servers, racks or systems, and eventually connecting multiple data centers. This is all about allowing clients to take advantage of fabric technology without expecting them to undertake an expensive and resource intensive forklift upgrade. That’s why starting at the edge makes a lot of sense.
For the intensive machine-to-machine communications required for server virtualization, cloud computing and high performance computing applications such as high-frequency trading, latency should be as close as you can possibly get to zero. There is the basic latency associated with the speed of light and the transmission medium, so as close as you can possibly get to zero defines the ideal. People in the industry have used the term the race to zero latency as a way of describing this insatiable quest for driving latency out of the system.
Clients are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. For example, data centers that were deploying five to six thousand servers on an annualized basis are now are routinely looking at deploying an order of magnitude more server infrastructure. So the scale at which these clients are deploying server infrastructure and storage capacity is huge. And if the network fabric that is connecting these servers and storage devices does not scale along with servers and storage, then you’ve got a problem.
While on one hand, clients are staring down the barrel of deploying an order of magnitude more servers and storage infrastructure than they ever have before, on the other hand they’re also concerned about ineffectiveness as it relates to utilization of their IT infrastructure. A big focus for enterprises is to increase the utilization of their IT infrastructure. The airline industry calls this yield management. The hospitality industry calls this occupancy rates. In the context of the data center, this is all about maximizing the utilization of IT infrastructure.
We in IBM System Networking agree with The Register’s Timothy Prickett-Morgan who in an insightful article “No More Tiers for Flat Networks,” writes, “For companies that need network traffic to move more efficiently at higher bandwidth and with lower latencies, then a leaf-spine network that has a flatter architecture, or perhaps a fat tree network inspired by supercomputers or a Clos network inspired by telecommunications, might be just the ticket.”
The definition of an ideal fabric is one that does not require clients to jump through hoops, change out servers or add unnecessary complexity. A good fabric should be one that can provide connectivity for the client’s existing infrastructure. That’s why IBM is a big proponent of standards, because we fundamentally believe that standards can bring not only the most innovative solutions to marketplace, but also deliver solutions that don’t lock clients into a particular type of technology or a specific vendor.
The data center network is going through a major transformation to support server virtualization and cloud computing, convergence of data storage, server-to-server traffic and new high-performance applications. To address these needs, the data center network fabric, the system network architecture that interconnects server devices and storage devices in a data center environment, has become a critical lynchpin of data center architecture. And the move to flat networks is enabling the fabric to help data go faster. And for today’s requirements, faster is most definitely better.
New IBM System Networking Innovations Address CIOs’ Pain Points
As I meet with CIOs around the world, the key issues they are working to address are invariably similar. Across the board, they are seeking to implement data center solutions that enable scalability, density, simplicity of management and provisioning, IT efficiency and virtualization, enhanced security, big data and analytics and low lifecycle costs. IBM System Networking is introducing a range of innovative new products that address these requirements. With these new offerings, CIOs can:
Scale SAN fabrics for private clouds. IBM System Networking is delivering new, high-performance 16Gbps Fibre Channel storage area networking (SAN) backbone, switch and management solutions designed to help enterprise clients migrate smoothly to private cloud architectures through faster data transfers, fewer links needed to accomplish the same task and fewer devices managed overall, with energy consumption seven times more efficient than competitive solutions.
Increase density and flatten networks. The new IBM Rackswitch G8316 is IBM System Networking’s new 40 Gigabit Ethernet aggregation switch with 16x 40G ports to aggregate multiple racks of servers or 64x 10G ports using breakout cables and a powerful control plane for higher performance. The IBM RackSwitch G8316 supports fat-tree networks for higher bandwidth and lower latency, provides an affordable alternative to expensive core switches, delivers predictable low latency through its single-chip design, and enables an end-to-end standards-based integrated solution using IBM switches and servers for easy management and provisioning.
Simplify management and provisioning. A unified management software solution for mixed SAN and FCoE environments, IBM Network Advisor provides greater insight for end-to-end network management to help reduce costs and simplify operations. IBM Networking Element Manager (formerly BLADEHarmony Manager) now includes better integration with Tivoli, topology discovery and support for additional managed devices.
Increase IT efficiency and virtualization. The IBM Networking Operating System (formerly BLADEOS) is a best-in-class data center network operating system for IBM RackSwitch and BladeCenter switches that incorporates the innovative VMready capability with support for the IEEE’s Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) 802.1Qbg standard to bring scalable virtualization awareness to the data center network. With VMready, clients can confidently deploy and manage production application workloads in private clouds consisting of hundreds of physical servers and thousands of virtual machines.
Enhance security. IBM iFlow Director is a purpose-built flow distribution system that enables high-performance and low-cost BladeCenter-based appliance solutions. IBM iFlow Director provides flow-based load balancing for security appliances, such as deep packet inspection devices, firewalls and IDS/IPS systems, anti-virus and anti-spyware appliances and lawful intercept devices as well as wireless Internet mobile gateway appliances.
Power big data and analytics. IBM System Networking’s top-of-rack, blade and SAN smarter networking solutions deliver the massive amounts of bandwidth required for today’s big data systems.
Reduce lifecycle costs by increasing network control and flexibility. Using the OpenFlow-based IBM RackSwitch G8264 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet switch, user-controlled virtual networks are easy to create, optimize performance dynamically and minimize complexity. OpenFlow is a network protocol that has been developed over the past six years at Stanford University. The new OpenFlow solution enables the network administrator to easily configure and manage virtual networks that control traffic on a per-flow basis.
CIOs can count on IBM for smarter data center solutions that address their most pressing pain points. You can learn more about our exciting new IBM System Networking innovations by visiting ibm.com/networking.
OpenFlow Gets Traction at SC11
Seattle, SC11 was the scene for the unveiling of IBM's new Blue Gene/Q supercomputer project to solve the most challenging problems facing engineers and scientists, such as predicting the path of hurricanes, analyzing the ocean floor to discover oil, simulating nuclear weapons performance and decoding gene sequences. SC11 attendees could challenge IBM’s Watson supercomputer in a game of Jeopardy and see the most innovative network research projects in “programming the network” using OpenFlow.
OpenFlow allows the implementation of software-defined networking to enable significant innovation in High Performance Computing, which is highly reliant on network infrastructure. At SC11, the SCInet Research Sandbox (SRS)
gave researchers access to over 100 Gigabits per second of capacity to demonstrate the promise of OpenFlow on a software-programmable testbed network running on the SCinet infrastructure. The SC11 SRS will feature for the first time a 10 Gigabit Ethernet, multi-vendor OpenFlow network testbed to provide OpenFlow capabilities for wide area networking. I am pleased to report that our OpenFlow-enabled IBM RackSwitch G8264
will play a major role in this landmark demonstration of OpenFlow capabilities.
As part of the SRS, Indiana University (IU) deployed a 100 Gigabit Ethernet network for its high-speed Lustre WAN between the IU data center in Indianapolis and the convention center in Seattle utilizing OpenFlow technology for path selection and OpenFlow-based IBM RackSwitch G8264s. IU’s Global Research Network Operations Center at Indiana University has extensive network expertise and is the home of the recently announced Network Development and Deployment Initiative based on OpenFlow. IU deployed two Lustre filesystems at the ends of a 100Gb network connecting Bloomington, Indiana and the SC11 show floor. The IU demo executed real-world scientific applications that will saturate this 100Gb link. At the saturation point, application traffic will be dynamically routed over an alternative network using OpenFlow, to tune traffic based on need, priority and capacity.
The SRS utilized IBM RackSwitch G8264s in multiple other OpenFlow demos including load balancing, dynamic circuits, 802.1ag fault management, and the Steroid OpenFlow Service (SOS) for end-to-end application throughput over long-range networks.
For a complete list of OpenFlow demos in SCInet, visit: SC11/SRS.org
Also at SC11, IBM System Networking showcased our new smarter networking solutions including products our IBM System Networking RackSwitch G8316, a 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) aggregation switch optimized for High Performance Computing and other applications requiring high bandwidth and low latency. The IBM System Storage SAN768B-2 and SAN384B-2 fabric backbones are among the industry's newest Fibre Channel switching infrastructure, providing reliable, scalable, high-performance foundations for private cloud storage and highly virtualized environments. The IBM System Storage SAN48B-5 SAN switch is designed to meet the demands of hyper-scale, private cloud storage environments by delivering 16 Gbps Fibre Channel technology and capabilities that support highly virtualized environments.
SC11 was a singular gathering of the High Performance Computing community, and it was a privilege for the IBM System Networking team to have the opportunity to meet with so many innovators in the engineering and science community.
OpenFlow – Next-Generation Networking for a Smarter Planet
We are seeing dramatic shifts as our planet becomes smarter. Every aspect of life is benefiting from the instrumentation, interconnection and the infusion of intelligence into the systems of the world. Networking is no exception, and the emerging OpenFlow specification promises a greater level of intelligence in Ethernet networks through a new approach called Software-Defined Networking (SDN).
OpenFlow is a network protocol that has been developed over the past six years at Stanford University. It was initially created for researchers and universities as a tool to allow experimentation with new protocols and is now showing great promise for today’s highly virtualized enterprise and cloud computing networks.
IBM is an industry leader in network virtualization technology and cloud computing through IBM System Networking's VMready product and is actively participating in the standardization of virtualization in networks through our leadership contribution to the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard. IBM is actively involved in OpenFlow technology.
OpenFlow is being promoted by the Open Networking Foundation formed by six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo! — as well as 17 member companies, including IBM and other major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers and chip technology providers. OpenFlow is a disruptive technology that enables customers to choose their networking hardware and software separately in order to design best-of-breed data center solutions.
There are many applications for OpenFlow in modern networks. For example:
- A network administrator could create on-demand “express lanes” for voice and data traffic that are time-sensitive.
- Software could also be used to combine several fiber optic links into a larger virtual pipe for temporarily handing a particularly heavy flow of traffic, and then have the channels automatically separate again when the data rush is over.
- Service providers could use OpenFlow to help build a Smarter Planet by offering remote services such as home security or energy management.
- In cloud computing environments, OpenFlow improves scalability and enables resources to be shared efficiently among different services in response to the number of users.
OpenFlow revolutionizes the monolithic model of conventional network devices by managing the flow tables on network switches, routers and access points independently of the device’s software. It removes much of the network decision making, often called the “control plane” from network devices into an external controller that can be implemented using standard server technology.
At Interop Las Vegas, May 8-12, 2011, IBM System Networking and NEC will be showing, for the first time publically, a proof-of-concept demo of an OpenFlow-enabled IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 working in concert with an NEC OpenFlow controller. IBM will also participate in the InteropNet OpenFlow Lab, which will educate attendees on the principles, functions and features of OpenFlow. The lab will demonstrate OpenFlow in different scenarios, including loop free networking, dynamic load balancing across multiple links and quality of service for VoIP.
We are proud to be one of the inaugural members of the Open Networking Foundation, which again demonstrates IBM’s long-standing commitment to making a difference for customers with open industry standards, which are essential for the Smarter Computing that powers a Smarter Planet.
System Networking and Data Center Efficiency Redefined
The value proposition for IBM System Networking is to provide the essential network connectivity solutions under the IBM brand to connect servers to servers, servers to storage and storage to storage. IBM System Networking offers a compelling alternative for customers seeking more efficient data centers with the greatest business value and lowest total cost of ownership for their data center networks.
System networking plays a critical role in customers’ server and storage buying decisions. Today, many customers are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale – data centers are expanding from 5,000 to 50,000 and 100,000 servers. For such scale-out architectures, the system network plays a critical role. Consider density; if it requires three data centers to house 5,000 servers, how many data centers will it take to house 50,000 servers? The answer better not be 30! So, the system network must deliver the high-density networking required to support highly consolidated and massively virtualized data center infrastructures.
If you are a CIO undertaking an order of magnitude increase in infrastructure, you want to increase utilization through virtualization, which requires the system network to be virtualization aware. And of course, the system network is vital to the security of this infrastructure.
If you have an order of magnitude increase in infrastructure, much of the functionality required to solve deployment and management issues can reside on data center switches implemented within the system network.
As companies take their businesses online, rapid and accurate business intelligence becomes ever more critical, which requires the system network for fast transport of information to and from analytic engines.
If you are employing an order of magnitude more infrastructure, total cost of ownership is important, and companies spend 15 to 20% of their investment in infrastructure on the network.
To address CIO’s key strategic issues of scaling, density, utilization/virtualization, security, data management and cost ownership, system networking is the common thread. IBM is an incredibly reputable server and storage vendor, and you can see the critical role the network plays.
The Cloud-Ready System Network
Today’s competitive business needs are driving the development of cloud-based data centers that are more cost-effective, agile, and scalable than ever before. Cloud computing places higher demands on the system network in areas such as speed, flexibility, virtualization, cost-effective operation and scalability. To meet the technical and business requirements of cloud computing, the networking layer of a cloud must offer high bandwidth and low latency, converged communications and storage, agile networks for virtual machine mobility, massive scalability and manageability and advanced energy efficiency.
The essential attributes of a cloud network include terabit scalability, predictable low latency, non-blocking throughput and high-speed interconnects using 1/10GbE and the emerging 40/100GbE. For example, the new IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 delivers throughput of up 1.28 Terabits per second and with its single-chip architecture, low latency is delivered across all port combinations. To bring even more bandwidth to the cloud, the RackSwitch G8264 is among the industry’s first top-of-rack switches with 40GbE interconnects.
One of the main advantages of cloud computing is on-demand access to resources, and virtualization plays a key role in providing those resources. IBM System Networking's VMready network virtualization software enables cloud computing infrastructures with mobile, active virtual machines. Cloud computing users can gain even greater advantages from mobile virtual machines when they can be moved securely and with predictable performance not only within a cloud, but over greater distances to connect multiple clouds. Movement between clouds enables applications such as disaster recovery and data replication.
Today, cloud computing environments are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale – data centers are expanding from 5,000 to 50,000 and 100,000 servers. For such scale-out architectures, the system network must deliver the high-density networking required to support highly consolidated and massively virtualized data center infrastructures. Today’s “flat” network topologies enabled through standards such as TRILL (Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links) are key to this scalability.
Power and cooling are some of the biggest expenses of operating a cloud data center. A common estimate for data center cooling and distribution costs is two watts for every single watt consumed by data center equipment and networking gear is 10 to 15% of the entire infrastructure —so choosing the most energy-efficient network components is essential. As clouds grow to thousands of servers and beyond, per-component power savings are magnified into hundreds of thousands of kilowatts.
From a business perspective, the system network architecture for today’s cloud computing applications must support incremental deployment that does not require razing an existing facility and building a new one. And as new pieces of the cloud are fitted into place, IT managers don’t want to be locked into a single-vendor implementation for any aspect of the solution. They want the freedom to select best-in-class hardware and software components, and they want to deploy new capacity as rapidly as possible. For example, IBM has extended Tivoli's virtualization management capabilities so that it can provision and deploy hundreds or thousands of virtual machines an hour for large-scale enterprise cloud implementations.
The Transformation of the Data Center Network
Recently, I joined the other networking industry executives in Network World’s Data Center Switching Challenge Series. Host Robin Layland points out that the data center network is undergoing a major transformation as server virtualization, intense storage growth and the increase in east-west traffic – application-to-application and application-to-storage traffic – are placing new demands on the data center networking infrastructure. Layland asserts that to accommodate these changes, data centers must become more cloud-like. That requires running a new Ethernet fabric – a high-throughput, self-configuring, low-latency and self-healing data center network that automatically forwards traffic over the shortest available path. I couldn’t agree more.
Certainly, new technology innovations including the transformation of the data center network, signal that we are entering a new era of computing that IBM calls Smarter Computing. At IBM System Networking, we believe that Smarter Computing can be achieved by connecting servers and storage with a high-speed and intelligent network fabric that is faster, greener, open and easy to manage. In Round One of the Challenge, I describe how evolving to these next-generation data centers, requires organizations to scale their infrastructures while minimizing complexity, achieving virtualization and consolidation with the quality of service required for production application workloads and successfully merging data and storage into a single network.
As organizations drive to transform and virtualize their IT infrastructures to reduce costs and manage risk, networking is pivotal to success. Optimizing network performance, availability, adaptability, security, and cost is essential to achieving the maximum benefit from the data center infrastructure. This in turn addresses CIOs’ key issues, including scalability, density, simplicity, utilization, security, analytics and total cost of ownership.
The value proposition for IBM System Networking is to provide the essential data and storage networking solutions under the IBM brand to connect servers to servers, servers to storage and storage to storage. Clients seeking more efficient data centers with the greatest business value and lowest total cost of ownership for their data center networks can implement an open, standards-based approach to simplify management, flatten and converge the network and optimize and automation virtualization.
In Round Two of the Challenge, Robin and I take a deeper look into the requirements for the data center network fabric in a brief podcast. The best way to look at the attributes of a data center fabric is what we call the four “L’s”. It’s got to be lossless. It’s got to be low latency. It’s got to consume low power and it’s got to have a very low cost of acquisition and operation. These are the essential attributes of a data center interconnect fabric. The problems on a large scale that this sort of a data center fabric is trying to solve are, first and foremost, to help clients scale their infrastructure. Second, to allow clients to increase the density of clients and storage per square foot of raised floor. Third, to make it incredibly simple to provision and manage data center infrastructure. Fourth, to enhance the security of the IT infrastructure. Fifth, to aid in the process of better analytics of a corporation’s information and data repositories. Sixth, to maximize the utilization of the IT infrastructure through technologies like virtualization, and finally, to lower the total cost of ownership of IT infrastructure.
Network World’s Data Center Switching Challenge is a great place to start when you are evaluating your data center networking needs and how leading vendors are taking new and innovative approaches to address next-generation requirements.