Posts Tagged Infrastructure 3.0
I have to admit, when I first heard that Juniper was looking to deliver a “single tier” for networking, I thought it was a case of marketing one-upmanship. Every networking vendor has been pitching its own version of how to flatten a network to gain greater efficiencies and support the different traffic patterns driven by virtualization. I wrote last year that there wasn’t much differentiation between the various high level messages of moving to a two-tier network. Juniper has announced the architecture of it’s Stratus Project – the first hardware component, the QFX3500 starts shipping this quarter and the full QFabric solution is expected to ship by Q3’11. Juniper’s deconstruction of a switch, which allows for greater scale, lower latency and most importantly an order of magnitude in the number of devices to be managed, is truly innovative (not a term I use lightly).
Today, IBM officially announced the formation of its System Networking group (it’s buried in this PR). I’m on the record saying that IBM’s acquisition of BNT is not to attack Cisco. IBM is a master at the practice of co-opetition, and has a stated commitment to maintain partnerships, unlike HP, which has openly declared war on Cisco. The networking industry has undergone a realignment that will challenge Cisco’s dominance in the space.
For years, I’ve heard people talk about the fact that Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is a technology that only Cisco is pushing or that it is a push by a dying Fibre Channel (FC) industry to extend product lives for a few more years. First of all, FC is still doing well (recent earnings from Brocade, Emulex and QLogic were all positive) and any transition from FC to Ethernet will still take many years (see my 2011 storage networking predictions). This week there were significant announcements by Intel and HP that reinforce that converged networking is much more than a Cisco initiative. FCoE will still be a minor player in the overall SAN market this year, but the ecosystem and customer adoption continue to move forward.
One of the ways that companies are looking to become more agile is by breaking down the silos between groups. This change can not happen solely through the adoption of new technologies (including management tools), it requires that IT staffs look to cross-training and internal process changes to become more efficient. Virtualization is a catalyst for this change as server, network, storage and application owners are all dealing with the impact of abstraction on how they do their jobs.
Commoditization of IT, moving to more standardized components is a force that affects every product line across the industry. Looking at the details of any server or storage device will show the impact that Intel has had. Network switches have specialized chip designs that differ from processors, but face the same competitive pressures of creating new generations of products at a lower cost with more functionality. The move to standard switch components has moved significantly over the last decade and is creating a shift in the economics of the switch market. Specifically, hardware value is flowing from the switch vendors (Cisco) to suppliers of switch silicon (Marvell, Broadcom, QLogic). The implication is that to maintain margins, switch manufacturers will need to look for alternative value streams.
Today in NYC, QLogic launched a new product line – a 10Gb Intelligent Ethernet adapter, Converged Network Adapter and Converged LOM – and presented their strategy to financial analysts. While a third generation product family announcement may not sound exciting, QLogic’s announcement of converged networking products is not just another turn of the crank. The solutions that can be deployed increase the FCoE ecosystem and give customers and vendors unprecedented flexibility for 10Gb Ethernet solutions. QLogic also shared its vision the full data center portfolio including security and virtualization components.
Servers are at the epicenter of the seismic changes in the datacenter caused by virtualization. At VMworld, Dave Vellante and I sat down with Bob Zuber, WW Product Marketing Manager at IBM to discuss the trends that he is seeing and how IBM stays competitive with their server architectures.
Phase 2 of Virtualization
As I return from VMworld 2010 in San Francisco, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I heard and the areas that I will continue to research and analyze in the coming months. Overall, I think that there was a good solid mixture of new announcements, vision, and lots of opportunities to understand or get hands-on with existing solutions—all without too much cloud-washing. There were great customer proof-points that were shared in sessions, in the solutions pavilion and on the live streaming video on SiliconANGLE.TV. I’ll be helping to curate the video content as part of my research agenda.
Howie Xu, R&D Director from VMware, put forth a vision of VMware’s direction for the future of networking, the challenges faced and VMware’s current thinking on how these issues should be solved. As part of the transformation of IT to create more scalable and flexible environments (what VMware and others would call the journey to the cloud), networking has some changes to make. It is VMware’s direction that to fully enable the mobility of network traffic, that more of the networking infrastructure that is currently in hardware should be moved into the networking layer. Networking switch hardware has mostly avoided the consumerization of IT, will custom switch ASICS become just another application for x86?
This morning there were two announcements, that were really non-announcements, related to FCoE: