The Plexxi vision

April 1st, 2013 | derick.winkworth | No Comments

As we’ve all heard, SDN marks a fundamental shift in how networks are built and how applications interact with the network.  Plexxi is in the business of SDN, and as a freshly minted Plexxite, I thought I’d share some of our forward-thinking thought-leadership.  There is no better way to begin this topic than with a diagram.

In figure 1, we see four layers in our overall system’s network architecture:  Application, Orchestration, Controlling Front-End Plane, and Peripheral Element.  Applications are, of course, those that support the core business mission.  These applications interact with the main orchestration frame in the orchestration layer to communicate their needs and schedule resources.  The orchestration layer then communicates to the controllers in the CFEP via their Northbound API.  The CFEPs, in turn, control their respective constituent peripheral elements via their southbound API.  For instance, the Communications FEP (Plexxi control, in the future) drives network peripherals.  The compute CFEP manages compute resources, such as hosts which are logically partitioned into virtual-machines.

In the second figure, we see that the orchestration layer of two adjacent systems has been connected.  This is possible because the system’s network architecture supports an advanced form of peer-to-peer networking (not to be confused with the torrent variety of P2P networking).  In this way, resources in different administrative domains can be shared as appropriate between businesses.

The use of gears in these diagrams is not for aesthetic reasons.  In other engineering fields with complex systems, the use of the word “machine” and its variants is common.  Even within the computing field, we have the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery).  Further, our focus is largely on enabling innovation within and driving success for the businesses that use such machinery.  Lastly, we know that we live in a global economy.  These business machines, therefore, are of an international nature (IBM).  With such a distribution, an IBM infrastructure with the ability to manage resources relative to the workloads placed on top of it is of utmost importance.

The world is ready for a new approach to systems networking.  Plexxi is moving networking out of the mainframe era into something more appropriate for the business needs of today and the future.

 

 

 

*** April Fools!!!  Just in case you didn’t see the obscure references to  SNA, APPN, FEPs, LPARS… and of course, IBM… :-) ***

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