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SDN Journal: Blog Post

Campus Networks for People with Campus Networks

People with a campus tend to build a campus network

Over the past year, Plexxi has not focused on the research and education markets.  Although the roots of SDN come from the education (i.e., university) market, we believed that Plexxi’s photonic ethernet switches would find faster adoption in the cloud, IaaS, SaaS and big data markets.

I have been selling networking equipment for most of my adult life.  It is a repetitive process that requires a rigorous set of metrics around reasons for wins and losses, sales cycle, market segments, technical and solution advantages, etc.  What I have found to be an important component of sales success–startup success in general – is fast failure.  Fail fast, try something new and repeat this process until you figure out what is successful.  Figuring out who is your customer and why they want to buy from you is the key to success. I call it cracking the customer code.

In the past few months, I learned a new customer code at Plexxi: people with a campus tend to build a campus network.  When I thought about universities using or interested in SDN, I tended to think about people in the computer science department programming switches and modifying operating systems. Here is a link to list of projects on the ONRC website.

What I did not think about were people in universities building networks for the university to provide backup, storage, and elastic compute services to the university. It turns out that universities are richer in fiber than I had assumed. If you are pulling a few hundred strands of single mode fiber across your metro campus, you might as well get the most from your fiber.

If you have fiber and you have compute and storage requirements, we think Plexxi has a compelling system to offer.  We have native ~15 km reach from our switch platforms and this provides us with the ability to build highly-utilized, low-cost, multi-site fabrics for campus networks.

Using a modern controller architecture, we can load balance 100% of the meshed photonic fabric, and provide a single point of control, programmable API and easy traffic engineering without the complexity and limitations of TRILL, SPB, OTV or SPT.  Our controller-based fabric provides a centralized traffic engineering (TE) service.  We collect real-time metrics and topology data from the resources using the network.  With this data we compute forwarding topologies.  Our controller then programs the distributed co-controller on each switch.


Our controller builds multiple forwarding topologies for all active MAC addresses, thus providing faster failure handling.  Having a controller-based network with multiple forwarding topologies provides for improved manageability, performance, utilization and cost-optimization.

Plexxi is the network you build when you need to build multiple logical topologies on a single physical topology.

The post Campus Networks for People with Campus Networks appeared first on Plexxi.

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More Stories By Bill Koss

Bill Koss is VP of Sales at Plexxi. Sales is about having a keen understanding of customer needs and matching them to appropriate solutions so that everyone benefits. The best salespeople are fluent in both business and technology, translating product into value. Vice President of Sales he has acquired these skills over a 20-year career in networking and information technology.

Plexxi is Bill’s fifth venture-backed startup, having successfully exited CrossComm, SDL, Sonoma Systems and Internet Photonics. Notably, Ciena acquired Internet Photonics in 2004 to include the CN4200 platform, which became a $1B+ product line. While with Ciena, Bill held a variety of roles including VP of North American Sales and VP of Global Partners. During Bill’s tenure at Ciena, annual revenue grew from $290M to $700M.

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