Posts Tagged Networking
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.
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.
Last week I attended Interop in New York City where I had the opportunity to speak to many companies about converged infrastructure and cloud solutions. Every vendor has a different definition of what convergence is (it is not melting your data center into a toxic blob) and how it fits into a cloud story. Back at the office, Dave Vellante debriefed me on what I saw – see the video clip below:
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.
Virtualization changes almost everything. It doesn’t change the laws of physics, but it does impact networking in many other ways. At VMworld 2010 in San Francisco, Wikibon co-founder Dave Vellante and SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier sat down with QLogic SVP Scott Genereux to discuss the impact of virtualization on networking and how QLogic is uniquely positioned in the market. Genereux states that only QLogic can meet the broad needs of OEMs, supporting FC, Ethernet (iSCSI and FCoE) and InfiniBand solutions.
Virtualization Impact on Networking
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?
VMware Director of R&D Howie Xu will be presenting The Future Direction of Networking Virtualization at VMworld 2010 in San Francisco (9am Monday 8/30 and 4:30pm Wednesday 9/1) and Copenhagen. In a preview video, Howie states that “VMware will be announcing an open, extensible networking virtual chassis platform, a Network OS or networking hypervisor, so that anyone can develop the on-demand networking service on top of vSphere.” There will also be services built on top of the platform. On the top-right corner of the white board at the beginning of the video is a term “vFabric” – could this be the name of the new platform? UPDATE: Howie Xu contacted me and let me know that “vFabric” is not related to the virtual chassis for network services which will be announced at VMworld.
This morning there were two announcements, that were really non-announcements, related to FCoE:
I’ve been discussing the changing IT infrastructure with a number of vendors. Getting schedules to line up, especially in the summer can be difficult, and after a last-minute cancellation of a meeting with Brocade, I sent a note on Twitter (above). It got a lot of responses, so I thought I would give my thoughts on Brocade. Rumors of Brocade being acquired have floated around for many years and M&A activity is always a hot topic for press and bloggers. I have no insider information about any activity, but have worked with Brocade (and most of the companies it has acquired) for 10 years. How would an acquisition affect the legacy FC market or the their entrance into Ethernet?