Yes, The Network Fabric in IBM PureSystems Is Interoperable With Existing Network Infrastructures
Since the recent introduction of IBM PureSystems
with network components developed by System Networking, clients are expressing great interest in the advantages of Expert Integrated Systems. One of their first questions is invariably: “Will IBM networks work with my existing data center and core network infrastructures?”
The answer is a resounding YES. When deploying an IBM PureFlex or PureApplication System, IBM’s standards-based approach to system networking ensures interoperability with existing network infrastructures across the edge, aggregation layer and core. Data centers with equipment from Cisco, Juniper and other network providers can benefit immediately – without any fear that IBM is somehow endeavoring to foist a “rip and replace” Trojan Horse strategy on our valued client.
With that said, here are four clear-cut reasons why IBM System Networking
delivers clear advantages:
- IBM’s Standards-Based Approach – Our mature and battle-tested IBM Networking OS is developed based on a standards-compliant philosophy driven by IBM’s leadership role in key international standards bodies, such as the IEEE, IETF and Open Networking Foundation.
- Certified Cisco Interoperability – Our clients in the world’s largest enterprise, financial services and cloud operators, know that network topologies implemented using our gear will work flawlessly with Cisco infrastructures. IBM System Networking products have been certified by The Tolly Group to deliver interoperability with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches. IBM and Juniper Networks recently collaborated to test the new IBM PureFlex System with Juniper products to build and run a cloud-based data center.
- Administrator-Friendly Operation – A common IBM Networking OS runs on IBM Ethernet products across our IBM PureSystems, BladeCenter, and RackSwitch lines. IBM system and network management tools such as Tivoli work with IBM Networking Element Manager. And, a Cisco-like command line interface is familiar to any Cisco-trained administrator.
- Proven Worldwide – With more than 14 million Ethernet switch ports connecting servers, storage and core networks, IBM System Networking has emerged as one of the industry’s foremost, innovative and focused data center networking providers. We estimate that nearly two million IBM switch ports are working with Cisco aggregation and core networks today in the world’s largest and most demanding network environments. Beyond the already significant performance, low latency and energy efficiency advantages delivered by IBM System Networking solutions, our clients know they can have a multi-vendor approach to data center networking, if that is what best suits their need.
Bottom line, clients will implement IBM PureSystems to harness the flexibility of a general-purpose system, the elasticity of cloud and the simplicity of an appliance tuned to the workload. However, as they move to fundamentally change the experience and economics of IT, they do not want to rip and replace their existing investment in networking or implement a proprietary fabric architecture that only works with a single vendor’s components.
Those are simply the realities of data center networking today. And, that’s why IBM has invested in ensuring that Expert Integrated Systems implemented with IBM networking are purpose built for the needs of the modern data center –interoperable, fast, intelligent, virtual and tuned to the task.
In a coming post, I’ll drill down into just how to implement an IBM PureSystems network to achieve the greatest performance and latency advantages.
IBM delivers smarter virtual networks with new OpenFlow controller
Industry pundits are calling software defined networking the most exciting and disruptive enterprise networking technology in decades. With the announcement of the new IBM System Networking Programmable Network Controller, IBM now provides a complete OpenFlow solution (the new controller plus IBM switch).
Just as IBM was first to market with a 10/40GbE OpenFlow-enabled switch, IBM is now leading the market with a complete SDN OpenFlow solution for the agile data center. By aggressively adopting, and contributing to, this new design paradigm, IBM is again demonstrating its commitment to innovation in order to meet and exceed customers’ needs for increased IT and business efficiency, competitiveness and creativity.
As one of the few Tier 1 vendors with any kind of SDN solution, we’re very excited to bring this complete solution to companies and organizations worldwide. And, to demonstrate IBM’s commitment to IT and business innovation.
IBM’s new software defined networking (SDN) controller is an addition to our enterprise networking portfolio. It provides intelligent software using the OpenFlow standard for the IBM RackSwitch G8264 and other OpenFlow-enabled switches. Using OpenFlow, our clients can create virtual networks with the scalability and flexibility required to respond to changes in cloud and mobile services environments.
Customers tell us that IBM’s commitment to interoperability and standards enables them to significantly reduce cost and time-to-value by increasing their networking intelligence. Now that SDN and OpenFlow are not just for research institutions anymore; financial services, software companies, cloud providers and web enterprises are increasingly adopting these new technologies to increase performance and user control.
Listening to what customers need, we’ve designed our new controller to dramatically simplify what is a very complex and expensive management task today. It also allows enterprise data centers to:
- Squeeze out costs from network administration.
- Mitigate business risk with flexible controls and management of network flows based on business policy.
- Deploy a “pay as you grow” scalable fabric that can be cost-effectively implemented with immediate benefits, accelerating time-to-market.
- Use all resources efficiently.
The controller’s technical advantages include:
- An OpenFlow-based network fabric with centralized control of network flows and virtual machine mobility, simplifying management.
- Increase in operational efficiency by automating network changes rather than requiring an admin to make CLI changes.
- Ability to transform traditional networking into an open, flexible model, dramatically increasing business agility and resource productivity while reducing costs.
- A pay-as-you-grow option allowing new applications or growth to leverage the advantages of IBM’s Programmable Network Controller
- Ideal solution for multi-tenant environments and those where business continuity is critical.
- A resilient network for self-healing after an outage.
SDN and virtual networks are opening a new world of possibilities - what new or improved capabilities and services do you see SDN and OpenFlow providing?
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?
A Fundamental Change in the Economics of IT – Innovation, Agility, Flexibility Massive Scalability through IBM’s New Expert Integrated PureSystems
The introduction by IBM of a new category of expert integrated systems sets the stage for a new, simpler era of computing and a fundamental change in the economics of IT. As 10,000 online viewers heard key IBM executives extol our vision of expert integrated systems and announce the introduction of the new PureSystems family – it is indeed a watershed day for IBM and our customers, as well as our Systems and Technology Group – and, for IBM System Networking.
We are delighted that IBM’s new PureSystems family, which results from $2 billion in R&D and acquisitions over the past four years, including IBM’s acquisition of BLADE Network Technologies and our talented team of BLADErs in October 2010, integrates networking components from IBM System Networking. Without these investments, the integration of IBM systems using IBM ”house brand” networking components would simply not have been possible less than just two years ago!
IBM’s new PureSystems are factory-built, tuned-to-the task, workload-optimized solutions that integrate server, storage and networking. IBM’s watershed approach to expert integrated systems took four years to define, develop and deliver, resulting in a single integrated, purpose-built system that doubles the computing power previously achievable per square foot of data space.
As organizations worldwide are challenged to deliver and harness innovation and business agility, and achieve massive scalability through integration, interoperability and standardization, IBM’s vision of expert integrated systems, and our new PureSystems family reflect this new economic reality. For example, by cutting months from costly deployments and time-consuming and manually intensive provisioning practices– new compute, storage and network capacity can be deployed up to 30 to 40 times faster.
Integrated systems require less manual intervention, consume much less precious space and power, and operate and scale far more efficiently. The results are ready-to-go systems that enable IT organizations to focus on, achieve and accelerate the innovation that their businesses and end users are looking for them to deliver.
This dense packing of compute power in PureSystems is exactly why the network will be so important to the future of this system. Before this, 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 Gigabit and Fibre Channel running up to 16 Gigabits per second
to realize very high bandwidth and low latency over short distances.
I am particularly pleased that IBM’s vision of expert integrated systems is aimed at realizing a fundamental change in the economics of IT. This vision of integration, scalability and standardization at the rack, row, data center and beyond echoes and reinforces customers’ needs for open, integrated systems that improve business efficiency, innovation and competitiveness I am truly excited as we set the stage for a new category of expert integrated systems and introduce a new era of value in the economics of IT.
Do you think that expert integrated systems can meet your organization’s requirements for innovation, flexibility, agility, and scale? How would viewing all of IT through a single pane of glass enhance IT ability to realize business goals?
IBM System Networking Delivers Comprehensive 10GBase-T Solution for Cost-Effective Data Center Networking
Our clients know that the cost of owning and operating networking infrastructure is a key factor contributing to the overall ROI of IT. For example, when clients upgrade their data center environments, they vastly prefer to avoid the expense of ripping out and replacing existing cabling infrastructures. In the cabling world, the majority of today’s data center networks use 1000Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet) running on Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a twisted pair structured cabling.
Now, increasing demand for user, device-generated and machine-to-machine bandwidth is driving a shift to 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Until now, however, the migration from 1GbE to 10GbE and beyond has been hampered because existing 10G links are based on optical transceivers or SFP+ Direct Attach copper, neither of which is compatible with Gigabit Ethernet. Now, technology advances have reduced the price and power consumption of 10GBase-T to enable a seamless migration from Gigabit to 10GbE Ethernet using existing cabling infrastructures. Both 1000Base-T and 10GBase-T use RJ45 connectors and a structured cabling model with twisted-pair wiring, 100-meter maximum spans, and standards-based auto-negotiation for backward compatibility.
That’s why we’re getting such a positive response to our new IBM RackSwitch G8264T, a new top-of-rack switch from IBM System Networking that is part of a comprehensive 10GBase-T solution offering from IBM, which includes servers, storage and networking, providing better virtualization, better management, and smarter connectivity options for next-generation data centers.
Designed with top performance in mind, the IBM RackSwitch G8264T is ideal for today’s big data, cloud and optimized workloads leveraging cost-effective 10GBase-T connectivity. The IBM RackSwitch G8264T incorporates 48 10GBase-T connections plus four 40Gb QSFP+ connections in a 1U form factor for flexible and low-cost connectivity at distances up to 100m for 10G environments. The IBM RackSwitch G8264T delivers line-rate, high-bandwidth switching, filtering, and traffic queuing without delaying data. Large data-center grade buffers keep traffic moving. Redundant power and fans along with numerous high-availability features equip the IBM RackSwitch G8264 and G8264T for business-sensitive traffic.
The IBM RackSwitch’s 10 Gigabit interfaces and 40 Gigabit Ethernet for upstream connectivity and future expansion are the ideal complement to new IBM System x M4 servers, which utilize Intel’s “Romley” Xeon E5 processors that were designed with 10G Ethernet as the preferred interconnect for today’s high-performance computing workloads.
While there’s a whole new world of opportunity for Ethernet-everywhere data center network infrastructures with next-generation capabilities, clients never prefer to rip out and replace their existing and significant investments in connectors and wiring. Our new IBM RackSwitch G8264T is the “poster child” for next-generation networking that leverages existing client investments.
Do you see the maturity of 10GBase-T as an important catalyst for the migration from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 Gigabit in the data center network?
IBM and NEC Team Up to Enable Industry Innovators to Transform their Networks with OpenFlow
On Tuesday, IBM and NEC jointly announced several customers who are adopting a new networking technology called OpenFlow. As you may know, many CEOs and CIOs are hearing the hype around the new OpenFlow protocol for data centers, but what should they know about this technology and how can it benefit their organizations beyond the IT department?
If you have not yet heard of it, OpenFlow is a disruptive networking technology that offers a new level of interoperability and user control and which can ultimately transform the very economics of data centers. OpenFlow has been developed over the past several years at Stanford University as a new way to implement what is known as Software-Defined Networking or SDN.
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.
OpenFlow is being promoted by the Open Networking Foundation founded 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 close to 50 member companies, including IBM and NEC, as well as other major equipment vendors, software suppliers and IC technology providers. OpenFlow promises a level of benefits to the network similar to what virtualization brings to servers.
I am extremely pleased that IBM and NEC are teaming up to help leading innovators adopt OpenFlow-based networking to transform their networks. Using a new IBM-NEC OpenFlow solution that integrates the OpenFlow-enabled IBM RackSwitch G8264 with NEC’s pFlow controller, these innovators are harnessing OpenFlow to power dynamic networks, manage massive amounts of information and deliver new services.
Stanford University, the originators of the OpenFlow protocol, will deploy IBM and NEC’s solution in a parallel network to test OpenFlow’s applicability to the university’s production environment.
Tervela, provider of a market-leading, distributed data fabric, has validated that this solution delivers a breakthrough in dynamic networking to ensure predictable performance of Big Data for complex and demanding business environments, such as global trading, risk analysis and e-commerce, by automatically segregating network traffic based on real-time statistics.
Selerity, provider of ultra-low latency event data, will employ IBM and NEC’s OpenFlow solution to accelerate real-time decision-making for global financial markets, distributing data across a global low-latency network in an innovative way that can be as much as 1,000 times faster than a conventional server-based application.
OpenFlow has evolved rapidly beyond research and academia to enterprise and IT, and IBM and NEC are leading the industry in building an open ecosystem for OpenFlow innovation and delivering the industry’s first, complete high-performance commercial OpenFlow solution.
This collaboration reflects the reality that the data center network is vital to business, driving new ways for users to control the functionality of networks to meet application requirements, for cloud, Big Data/analytics and high performance computing, more simply, flexibly and intelligently.
For more information about this innovative new solution, please view the following resources:
•IBM White Paper: OpenFlow-The Next Generation in Networking Interoperability
• ESG Tech Brief: IBM and NEC Bring SDN/OpenFlow to Enterprise Data Center Networks
How do you see data centers taking advantage of OpenFlow’s capabilities to make networks smarter by enabling users with greater control over network security, performance and complexity?
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.
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.
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 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.
What Makes A Good Network Fabric?
As I wrote in my earlier blog post, the data center network is going through a major transformation to support server virtualization and cloud computing, convergence of data storage, application-to-application 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. I am frequently asked the question, “What makes a good network fabric?” The term “fabric” has nearly as many definitions and permutations as “cloud,” so I would like to suggest the top 10 attributes that a data center network fabric should possess.
- Open and Interoperable – Modern data center networking is best accomplished when it is standards-based, when multiple vendors equipment can co-exist and interoperate, and clients can choose between multiple vendors’ wares without paying a pricing penalty or needing to rip-and-replace to meet growth needs and implement next-generation approaches. Standards-based Ethernet is a fabric essential.
- High Speed – To meet the performance needs of big data, cloud computing and workload-optimized systems, data centers are increasingly implementing 10 Gigabit Ethernet on the server and in the access and aggregation layers, which is driving interest in 40 Gigabit Ethernet with 100 Gigabit Ethernet on the horizon.
- Low Latency - Applications such as high-frequency trading require the lowest possible latency. The race to zero latency is enabled by ultra-low-latency switches that deterministic with the same connection speeds across every port combination.
- Loss-less – To meet the needs of machine-to-machine applications and converged data and storage networking, Ethernet networks must be loss-less. Network equipment supports the Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards to ensure loss-less operation.
- Flat – Clos and fat tree network designs are becoming increasingly prevalent for the flow-based, non-blocking, shortest path network fabrics required in highly virtualized and cloud data centers and for converged data and storage traffic. With standards such as Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) and Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) on the horizon and other alternatives for flat networks requiring proprietary implementations, network architects favor existing approaches to meshed networking such as Virtual Link Aggregation (vLAG) to maximize network efficiency, reduce congestion and address Spanning Tree limitations by creating active/active Layer 2 network paths for load balancing and redundancy.
- Virtualization Aware – To ensure that network security, performance and access policies move dynamically when live virtual machines migrate from server to server anywhere in the virtualized data center or private cloud, the Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) 802.1Qbg standard specifies the interaction between virtual switching environments in a hypervisor and the first layer of the physical switching infrastructure. The EVB 802.1Qbg standard addresses the conventional vSwitch’s lack of network management, monitoring and security.
- Scalable – Linearly scalable is a requisite of network fabric design, which can be achieved by non-blocking, non-oversubscribed topologies implemented using top-of-rack switches.
- User Control – The emerging OpenFlow specification enables network infrastructure providers to deliver open virtual networking systems that that are easy for users to control, optimize performance dynamically and minimize complexity. OpenFlow-based networks enable the network administrator to easily configure and manage virtual networks that control traffic on a per-flow basis. The administrator can easily program an OpenFlow controller to create or delete multiple independent virtual networks and related policies that span the system network without having to deal with the complexities of the underlying physical network and protocol details.
- Unified Management – Network devices that make up the fabric should be managed, configured and provisioned as if they were a single logical device, including the ability to can track virtual machines by switch or IP address, and pre-provision network characteristics for VMs.
- Low Lifecycle Costs – And finally, per-switch costs should be affordable so networks can scale on an incremental basis, the need for expensive chassis switches should be minimized, and low power requirements and cooling efficiencies should enable low energy costs particularly for massive networks fabrics that interconnect thousands of server and storage systems.
We have designed IBM System Networking’s Unified Fabric Architecture, our fast, smart, interoperable and proven data center Ethernet network fabric, to deliver across all 10 of these attributes. Unified Fabric Architecture along with the ability to replicate pre-provisioned racks and integrated systems, enables clients that have already invested billions of dollars in their data centers to take advantage of the best innovations in the industry and achieve the lowest possible cost of ownership for their IT infrastructure.
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.
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.
Harnessing the Full Potential of Virtualization
With VMworld 2011 taking place this week in Las Vegas (August 29 to September 1), the industry’s attention is riveted on virtualization. IBM provides deep virtualization expertise and an integrated portfolio of solutions to enable and support business and IT virtualization objectives. IBM approaches transformation from a holistic perspective with smarter systems, software, and services, enabling virtualization not only at the platform level, but also across operating systems and middleware.
Virtualization brings both benefits and drawbacks to the data center: it can maximize underutilized resources and minimize infrastructure spending—but add complexity and administrative overhead for the network administrator.
Today, among the biggest problems clients are facing with their virtual server and storage infrastructures is that when VMs move, the network that connects these server and storage devices is not VM aware, relying instead on conventional physical device awareness. Thus, with a network that is not VM-aware, when VMs move, network addresses, security policies and class of service policies need to be re-configured manually. Enabling the network with awareness of virtualization is what is needed.
This inability of conventional data center networks to understand the language of virtualization and see Virtual Machines (VMs) as they move from server to server and even from data center to data center poses a major impediment to the use of virtualization, particularly for production application workloads, where performance, availability, and security are bottom-line priorities. Those who manage physical and virtual infrastructures know that the network must keep pace with virtualization, and they are increasingly vocal about their desire for scalable, secure and open solutions for building a virtualization-aware network.
To fulfill the promise of smarter computing, Virtual Machines (VMs) need to be supported by an intelligent network. IBM System Networking’s switch-resident VMready® with Virtual Vision is a unique solution that enables the network to be Virtual Machine aware, so that the network can be configured, managed and secured for 1000s of virtual ports (v-ports).
With VMready, as VMs migrate across physical hosts, so do their network attributes automatically, retaining the same ACLs, QoS and VLAN attributes. VMready will support the emerging Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) technologies now being defined by the IEEE 802.1Qbg working group to make it easier for businesses to achieve server-network virtualization in the data center.
Our clients have been crystal clear in expressing their desire for networks that can scale, secure and migrate VMs even across long distances between data centers. And, they want to achieve this automated network change management without locking into proprietary stacks or having to rip and replace their existing virtual infrastructures. With VMready and Virtual Vision, IBM is enabling data center operators to maximize their investment in server virtualization.
If you’re attending VMworld 2011, please make sure to learn more about VMready by visiting IBM in Booth #321.
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.