This week Kyle Alspach wrote a feature on Plexxi in the Boston Business Journal: Plexxi heads out of startup mode, says Cisco ‘in tune’ with networking approach. Kyle discusses how far we’ve come as a startup in the last few years, as we continue to increase our customer base and intend to move out of the “startup” phase in 2014. Our CEO, Dave Husak mentions that Cisco’s recent application centric infrastructure (ACI) announcement is evidence that Plexxi understands the current challenges in networking and how to solve them since we have been working with applications from the beginning. In our video of the week, Dan Bachman discusses an aspect of our latest product, Switch 2, explaining whether additional LightRail ports impact Plexxi’s ability to scale. Check out our video of the week and a few of my reads in the Plexxi Pulse – enjoy!
IT Business Edge contributor Arthur Cole focuses on why physical infrastructure is so critical to the data environment and how changes in networking are reinforcing the need for higher level architectures. I don’t completely agree with the suggestion in this article that hardware becomes boring. I think that edge policy will definitely move off the boxes, because building functionality into the hardware platforms is unnecessary, and things like SDN and network virtualization will make it possible to separate the two. What you are left with, though, doesn’t have to be simple, static pipes. If anything, once you free yourself from the pain of managing on a device-by-device basis, you will want your underlying transport to be more flexible and responsive to the applications. There are opportunities to marry photonic switching with SDN that create dynamic bandwidth capabilities. Imagine an application requires a bunch of capacity for a short period. You can allocate that capacity and then return it to the network when the application is done. The hardware works with the software intelligence. Given our advancements in the last few years, I know the future will not be about cheaper versions of the same networks we have today.
Arthur Cole also discussed whether SDN will initiate new routers in Enterprise Networking Planet. I see a common thread in the dialogue around SDN. Programmability is mentioned frequently, but for most people, the thought of having the application guys program the network is fraught with peril. If you ask the application guys, their real interest is not in programming the network but in making sure they get what they need from the network. Sure, if they program it themselves, they can do that, but they don’t want to learn VLANs and ACLs and edge policy any more than the networking guys want to introduce security and stability vulnerabilities. What everyone needs is not just the APIs, but the abstractions. Allow the different constituents to specify what is important without requiring them to program anything. Abstraction needs to be a bigger part of the discussion. This is part of what OpenDaylight is tackling. In addition to the low-level flow programming, OpenDaylight is picking up some abstraction work, which should help bridge this gap.
TechTarget’s Shamus McGillicuddy argues that Oracle’s Corente acquisition is not an indication that the enterprise software company is planning to compete in the SDN market and go to head to head with Cisco. While I agree that Oracle is not likely to sell networking products, both companies are headed in a similar direction. The natural conclusion of an application-centric infrastructure is a tighter link between applications and infrastructure. Owning one side of that equation is fine, but once you have that side secured, just over the border is an attractive means of growth. I don’t think Cisco will get into enterprise systems, or that Oracle will start making routers, but if the infrastructure is deployed in support of applications, you could see more application-led (or cloud-service-led) deployments. This will certainly pit the two against each other. Never mind that Cisco CEO John Chambers’ new mantra is that Cisco will be the leading IT company, no longer limiting himself to just networking. I think we are seeing tectonic shifts. They will happen slowly for sure, but things are moving.