Earlier this week, Ethan Banks wrote a very nice article about Mellanox’s
dual spine and leaf network in support of a large amount 10GbE access ports.
After describing the scaled up network design, he reviews 8 observations
about the design, not to point out good or bad, but merely to point out
specific points to consider. Fully coincidental (Ethan lives close to us, but
I am pretty sure he cannot peek through our windows) we had gone through a
similar exercise this week, documenting the choices and limitations of spine
and leaf networks. And as always, the conclusions are not ones of right or
wrong, more of awareness of choices and consequences.
The Mellanox design Ethan describes employes an extra spine layer, we have
seen and heard the same from Arista and others, some calling it a spine-spine
or similar. Nitpicking perhaps, but adding a spine layer to a spine and... (more)
Not entirely unexpected, the optical capabilities in our switch have provoked
questions from customers and potential customers on whether the Plexxi
solution could be used to create campus, metro or even long distance multi
site fabrics. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and with the
newly introduced switch 2 platform, some of the connectivity options added to
that platform make it extremely flexible to do just that.
The whole topic of Data Center Interconnects tends to attract strong
supporters and strong opponents at the same time. In a world without
For as long as I remember networking has struggled with the balance between
aggregated and individual traffic flows. Following the abilities of the
technology components we use, we have been forced to aggregate, only to be
allowed to de-aggregate or skip aggregation when technology caught up or
surpassed the needs of today.
The vast majority of networking equipment is driven by specialized hardware.
For datacenter switches, speed and port density are driving the requirements
and physics and our technology capabilities create trade-offs that ultimately
lead to some form of aggreg... (more)
We love analogies. No matter what the topic, analogies are a great way to
explain something in a different context to make a specific point with a
frame of reference that may be more familiar to those we are making a point
to. There is one that seems to come back over and over again in our industry,
the one that compares the network to the power grid, network connections to
power plugs. I had not heard it for a while but at Interop last week, I
heard it used twice in booth demonstrations as part of plug and play pitches.
And I really do not like that analogy.
The comparison to ... (more)
Perhaps not as popular as its brothers and sisters I, P and S,
Network-As-A-Service or NaaS has slowly started to appear in industry press,
articles and presentations. While sometimes associated with a hypervisor
based overlay solution, its definition is not very clear, which is not at all
surprising. Our industry does not do too well in defining new terms. I ran
across this presentation from Usenix 2012 that details a NaaS solution that
adds a software forwarding engine to switches and routers that provide
specific services for some well known cloud computing workloads.
I have ... (more)