SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: SDN Journal

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Leveraging Optical Transport to Create Multi-Site Datacenter Services

The primary objective for networking for decades has been to provide connectivity between resources

The primary objective for networking for decades has been to provide connectivity between resources. In the early days, mere connectivity was valuable enough to make it a service by itself. Then the game shifted to providing bandwidth – essentially more connectivity. Since that time, we have tried different variations of the connectivity-as-a-service model: clean pipes for more secure connectivity, patch panel services in the datacenter for faster connectivity, and VLAN-as-a-service for more isolated connectivity.

As connectivity becomes more and more a commodity service and requirements become more demanding, how that connectivity is provided has to evolve.

In the datacenter, the network serves as an interconnect between pools of resources. For the most part, those resources exist in close proximity (within the same physical datacenter, and typically within a narrow space within that datacenter). This is because the act of separating resources over even relatively short distances incurs performance hits as traffic gets shunted through aggregation and transport layers.

There are technologies that make transport higher capacity and lower latency, but these have typically been relegated to large carrier networks primarily because of cost and secondarily because of the specialized nature of Layer-1 equipment. But as manufacturing processes improve, the cost comes down, and the introduction of technologies like SDN helps remove the complexity.

The result is a new set of capabilities in the datacenter that can both improve performance and enable new services.

Imagine the datacenter as having two jobs: get traffic from resources (servers, storage, etc.) and move that traffic to other resources (other servers, storage, or up and out of the datacenter). Using this model, there are basically two classes of connectivity service: physical connectivity (paying for dedicated bandwidth or links) and virtual connectivity (VLANs, for example).

When you introduce optical transport into the datacenter, you essentially create a different way of offering connectivity service to datacenter tenants. Using DWDM as an interconnect between resources (be they in a single datacenter or across large distances), providers can offer a wavelength as a service.

The wavelength-as-a-service model is a bit of a hybrid between the bandwidth and VLAN models. It allows users to get guaranteed bandwidth across an isolated connection. You essentially get a single Layer-2 domain stretched between resources that are physically distributed.

Combining this with a central control model typical in SDN architectures makes the offering even more compelling.

[To see how DWDM is changing the way multi-site datacenter fabrics work, check out Iron Mountain and Plexxi on SDNCentral’s DemoFriday on July 18 at 1p EDT. Register here.]

Optical interconnects are interesting because they allow single-hop connectivity across multi-hop topographies. Put differently, an optical path can traverse multiple devices without incurring a switch hop in between. Traffic is photonicially switched without hitting the switching ASIC for a lookup. This allows for very low-latency end-to-end transport via direct connections. Imagine if every flight in the US had to travel through Chicago. Direct connections affect experience.

Perhaps more importantly, those optical paths can be programmed. They are not statically bound to the physical devices. This means that paths can be set up and torn down dynamically. Imagine that an application requires the exchange of a lot of data (as with a Big Data app). An optical path can be established between resources, allowing a high-capacity, single-hop connection to be established on demand. This helps guarantee connectivity and performance while simultaneously isolating the workload from the rest of the network (effectively protecting both the application and any residual traffic on the network).

From a provider point of view, this represents a different type of connectivity service. The ability to add bandwidth on demand anywhere in the network eliminates the need for expensive, dedicated connectivity. Customers can subscribe to baseline connectivity services, and then use additional wavelengths when and where necessary. This creates a service model that more closely resembles the cloud pay-as-you-go services that are attracting more and more attention.

More interestingly, these optical paths are not limited to a single physical datacenter. Optical transport can easily handle metro areas, and without additional equipment span more than 1,000km. This enables providers to create connectivity services across multiple datacenter sites, which allows customers to locate their servers wherever makes sense based on proximity, business continuity, and even physical (space and power costs, for example) requirements.

While there will be additional hosting and provider services that emerge as a result of technologies like SDN and NFV, it could be that the expansion of existing connectivity services provides the best short-term opportunity for manageable changes in product and service offerings within the hosting and CoLo space.

[Today’s fun fact: The average lead pencil can draw a line 35 miles long. That’s 50,000 English words according to the guys at Snapple. Who knew?]

The post Leveraging optical transport to create multi-site datacenter services appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

CloudEXPO Stories
With more than 30 Kubernetes solutions in the marketplace, it's tempting to think Kubernetes and the vendor ecosystem has solved the problem of operationalizing containers at scale or of automatically managing the elasticity of the underlying infrastructure that these solutions need to be truly scalable. Far from it. There are at least six major pain points that companies experience when they try to deploy and run Kubernetes in their complex environments. In this presentation, the speaker will detail these pain points and explain how cloud can address them.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. SD-WAN helps enterprises to take advantage of the exploding landscape of cloud applications and services, due to its unique capability to support all things cloud related.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and GM, discussed how clients in this new era of innovation can apply data, technology, plus human ingenuity to springboard to advance new business value and opportunities.