Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cloud Fabrics and Virtual Networks

In the last couple of years, nearly every networking equipment vendor is touting their new data center fabric aimed at the creation of clouds. Take a look at the [partial] list below, culled from the respective web sites:

Company Fabric Offering
Arista Networks ????
Brocade Communication Systems, Inc. Data Center Fabric
Cisco Systems Unified Data Center Fabric
Extreme Networks Open Fabric Data Center
Force10 Networks Open Cloud Networking
HP FlexFabric
IBM BladeCenter
Juniper Networks QFabric
NEC ????

Nearly all of them claim membership, in one form or the other, in the OpenFlow and the OpenStack community. So, how will a cloud provider pick from among these? Some of the obvious considerations are:
  1. Is the physical infrastructure capable of 5 9s1, or 99.999%, availability?
  2. How many virtual networks can be supported by the physical infrastructure? Or, more specifically, how many virtual links can be supported between any two geographical data centers? The economics for a cloud provider is related to this parameter.
In addition to the foregoing equipment providers, there is a new crop of players as well: Big Switch, Nicira, vCider, ...

It will be interesting to see how this physical infrastructure play will evolve.

    1Actually, in order to provide the 5 9s behavior in virtual networks, it won't be a surprise if 6 9s availability is required at the physical network infrastructure level.

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