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.
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 System Networking RackSwitch G8264 Wins Communications Solutions Product of the Year Recognition
I am happy to report that the IBM System Networking RackSwitch G8264 is a recipient of TMC’s 2010 Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award. See the press release here.
The RackSwitch G8264 is IBM System Networking’s innovative 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch specifically designed for the data center to provide speed, intelligence and interoperability, interconnecting highly virtualized servers equipped with 10 Gigabit Ethernet and providing seamless migration to 40 Gigabit upstream networks.
RackSwitch G8264’s is power packed with innovations that include:
Single-Chip Switch Fabric: RackSwitch G8264 uses an innovative switching architecture to operate with low, deterministic latency, consistent bi-directional throughput at line rate across all ports combinations, better microburst absorption, greater reliability and ultra-low power consumption of just 5.8 watts per port.
Massive Scale: RackSwitch G8264 includes 48 SFP+ ports for 10 GbE or 1 GbE operation and four QSFP+ ports for 40 GbE uplinks or 10 GbE use via a breakout cable for a total of 64 10 GbE ports. The terabit-class switch provides massive scalability for highly virtualized data center networks with up to 448 10GbE server ports in a stacked configuration for interconnecting thousands of virtual machines.
Virtual Vision: RackSwitch G8264 integrates VMready with Virtual Vision to secure and automate Virtual Machine migrations across large data center environments. Innovative and proven VMready “sees” virtual machines (VMs) as they move from server to server, protecting virtual machines by automatically synchronizing network policies among switches and hypervisors. With the Virtual Vision central policy database, VMready provides a single point of management for VM traffic and security across an entire data center with hundreds of servers and thousands of VMs, all designed for easy transition to emerging IEEE 802.1Qbg standards.
Next Generation Data Center Networking: RackSwitch G8264 supports the DCB/CEE standards for converged data center networks for FCoE, iSCSI or NAS, IBM Virtual Fabric for flexible vNIC connectivity, HotLinks and Layer 2 failover and standard Layer 2/3 features including stacking, IP PIM multicast, dynamic routing and spanning tree.
Congestion Prevention: Because network traffic between highly virtualized multi-core servers generates large amounts of server-to-server network traffic, virtualized servers need congestion notifications much earlier than enabled by conventional switches. IBM RackSwitch G8264 incorporates Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) and Weighed Random Early Detection (WRED), which control packet flow from servers to avoid large saw-tooth fluctuations in network throughput that can slow application performance.
The IBM System Networking RackSwitch G8264 tops in top of rack switches, and this latest award is welcome recognition of the innovation that sets it apart.
IBM Introduces High-Performance Storage Area Networking for Cloud and Virtualized Data Centers
IBM System Networking offers a wide portfolio of smarter networking solutions for next-generation data center solutions, including Ethernet and Fibre Channel. Today, we’re pleased to announce the availability of new, high-performance 16Gbps Fibre Channel storage area networking (SAN) solutions for cloud and virtualized data centers.
This new high-performance Fibre Channel fabric platform implements smarter private cloud computing for today’s most popular virtualized storage environments. With these new 16 Gbps SAN solutions from IBM, clients can unleash the full potential of private cloud storage with improved scalability, performance and reliability, reduced network complexity and costs and centralized management.
Our next-generation IBM System Networking products are 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.
In addition to high performance and ease of management, IBM System Networking’s new smarter SAN networking solutions also address one of the biggest needs in today’s data centers – the push to provide standards-based solutions that are fast, truly interoperable and efficient. As demand for highly virtualized infrastructures increases, and public, private and hybrid clouds become increasingly popular, the new IBM solutions will consolidate and lower expenses around servers and storage deployments while accelerating and streamlining SAN backbones and switching platforms to accelerate access to the cloud.
IBM’s new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN solutions are orchestrated with leading IBM products, including IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and IBM Systems Director. The portfolio includes:
- Our new 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. These new backbones enable simpler, flatter, low-latency chassis connectivity to reduce network complexity, management and costs.
- 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. Our new switch delivers 16 Gbps performance with up to 48 ports in an energy-efficient, 1U form factor, providing great flexibility for diverse deployment and cooling strategies.
- IBM® Network Advisor V11 is a software management platform that unifies network management for storage area networks (SAN) and converged networks. It is designed to provide a consistent user interface across Fibre Channel and FCoE over Data Center Bridging (DCB), along with custom views and controls based on the users' areas of specialization.
Our clients continue to have significant needs for Fibre Channel SANs, and according to Dell'Oro Group, SAN switch market revenues are expected to reach $2.5B in 2011, increasing to $4.7B by 2015.
These new products will be available in August, 2011. For more information, visit www.ibm.com/networking
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.
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.
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.
IBM System Networking on Track
As we pass the one-year anniversary of IBM’s acquisition of BLADE Network Technologies, I am pleased to report that IBM System Networking is on track in our focus to deliver “Smarter Networking for Smarter Data Centers.” We have exceeded our business objectives across the past four quarters, delivered an enhanced and expanded portfolio of data center networking solutions, and are succeeding in our goal to bring intelligence and speed to the essential access, distribution and aggregation layers where server and storage systems are connected to the data center network.
Gartner’s recent report: “Competitive Landscape: Data Center Ethernet Switches, Worldwide, 2011 Update” validates our growing market impact. Gartner places IBM System Networking as the number-two vendor in the data center networking market that has grown to $6.1 billion and 22.5 million ports.
Gartner reports that users now recognize the need for a "significantly new type of Ethernet switch for their data centers. As more and more data centers are affected by trends like consolidation, virtualization and automation, this has given rise to a set of new problems that network managers have to address.” As a result, Gartner asserts that data center networking must address:
• Growing east-west network traffic
• Growing need for 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches at every layer of the data center network
• Redundant design at various levels of the network
• Flat topologies to bring down the number of hops and reduce network latency
• Effectively providing interconnects and network services like security authentication, load balancing/failover, virtual LAN (VLAN) administration and traffic shaping to virtual machines.
• Overcoming the topological, failover and scalability limits imposed by spanning tree protocol (STP)
• Low power consumption with front to rear airflow design.
IBM System Networking delivers across all these requirements, which is why we are playing a leadership role in the data center networking market. Clients who deploy Smarter Computing using IBM System Networking solutions realize improved economics, better network performance, lower latency, less complexity, greater energy efficiency and streamlined management. These advantages become paramount as clients deploy a new class of switches specifically designed for the data center in ever-growing numbers.
IBM Leads All in 40G Ethernet Shipments
I am proud to report that IBM holds the leadership position in the emerging market for 40 Gigabit Ethernet in the data center. According to research firm Dell’Oro Group, which recently began tracking the 40G Ethernet market, IBM is the market leader. This leadership position is due to the continued growth of 10G Ethernet, which necessitates 40G uplinks and aggregation switches as delivered by our innovative IBM RackSwitch G8264 and IBM RackSwitch G8316 top-of-rack switches.
In Dell'Oro's first 40G market report for the third calendar quarter of 2011, IBM RackSwitch products held a market share of more than 69%, more than 4 times greater than any other vendor.
The market for 40G Ethernet is still in its infancy. However, as data centers and cloud operators increasingly deploy servers equipped with 10G Ethernet, this drives the need for 40G upstream connectivity. The IBM RackSwitch G8264 and G8316 are ideal in this regard because they can be equipped with 10G server interconnects and 10G uplinks that can be easily upgraded to 40G as requirements demand.
The IBM RackSwitch G8264 is a 10/40G top-of-rack switch specifically designed for applications requiring the highest performance. It combines 1.28 Tbps throughput with up to 4 40G ports or up to 64 10G ports. The RackSwitch G8316 is a 40G top-of-rack aggregation switch that can be configured with either 16 40G ports or up to 64 10G ports. These switches set IBM apart and our leadership position in the emerging market for 40G Ethernet demonstrates that our innovative products are being well received in the marketplace.
IBM Delivers Standards-Based Virtualization Awareness and Automation for Large-Scale, Highly Virtualized Data Centers
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 often managed separately from physical infrastructure, 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 address the need for massively scalable, highly virtualized data centers, key standards have emerged for network virtualization automation. IBM System Networking
has developed and delivered the new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) 5000V
™ alongside switch-resident IBM VMready®
, so 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 IBM RackSwitch™
, as well as embedded Ethernet switches for IBM BladeCenter®
and IBM FlexSystems®
, along with IBM’s 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 virtual switch.
The IBM System Networking Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V is an advanced, feature-rich distributed virtual switch developed by IBM in cooperation with VMware with policy-based virtual machine (VM) connectivity. The IBM Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) 5000V 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. No fork lift of physical edge switches is required -- a simple firmware upgrade enables IEEE 802.1Qbg support on IBM physical switches. Virtual Machine (VM) traffic is switched at the device -- virtual or physical -- nearest to the VM in the traditional vSwitch EVB mode or in the transparent or reflective relay VEPA mode. IBM System Networking DVS 5000V is highly recommended for VM switching in VMware vSphere enterprise data center solutions – it is designed from the ground up to automate and scale any highly virtualized enterprise workload.
The standards-based network virtualization awareness, automation and “Virtual Vision” provided by IBM’s DVS 5000V and VMready demonstrate the healthy ecosystem in virtualization-aware networking and ensures that clients have freedom of choice to implement a multi-vendor network infrastructure that is equipped, enabled and scalable for massive virtualization.
Our standards-based approach enables clients to implement an integrated network across physical and virtual networks so the entire system-level network is aware of Virtual Machines and can automate their live mobility as workload requirements change. It’s truly a comprehensive solution that many clients are seeing as the way forward as they continue to embrace and extend virtualization across servers and workloads.
How do you see data center networks evolving to keep pace with the demands of massive virtualization?