It’s no secret that network architecture is evolving to address the new needs and requirements of the Third Era of IT. This is happening for a reason. There is a trifecta of events affecting the industry: new requirements, new application architectures and new consumption models.

What all this reveals is that a new IT landscape has arrived – the Third Platform, where applications and service offerings define IT rather than the opposite.

The need of businesses to drive new application development, change, and deployment is changing the consumption models for IT so radically that for the first time the industry is prioritizing consumption of an entire service over individual infrastructure silos. It’s quickly becoming apparent that IT will increasingly be consumed as service offerings whether delivered through private or public cloud providers (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS).

The Changing Nature of the Private Cloud

Cloud enables rapid scaling; both up and down, of compute and storage capacity and facilitates agility for the introduction of new services and applications as well as resource alignment to the changing needs of the business. Public cloud has been the most prevalent adoption model to date, however we see a growing trend where organizations are looking to build private clouds in conjunction with their public cloud usage. There are a large number of applications that are well suited to the public cloud and it will continue to be a valuable and important tool leveraged by organizations. But there are also many applications that for security, compliance or business reasons require a more specific cloud infrastructure tailored to their business needs. To accomplish this, Internal IT teams are increasingly being tasked with delivering the speed and agility of the public cloud within their private cloud environments.

Private cloud deployments are increasingly utilizing converged infrastructures, moving away from separate component purchases. Converged infrastructures offer reduced management complexity through pre-built integration between storage and compute resources. As private cloud deployments grow, the network supporting them, and its integration with the converged infrastructure becomes more important. Managed service providers, like our customer Perseus, are looking to increase agility and decrease cost while delivering both local and global services to their customers. They require tools that allow for a seamless experience for private and public clouds—and Plexxi can offer just that.

Who is building these public and private clouds? We call them, cloud architects or simply cloud builders…

What is a Cloud Builder, and what do they care about?

Well, they look a lot like the “Platform 2” System Integrators who excel at integrating best of breed technology stacks at the product level. However, cloud builders are looking to build deeply integrated infrastructure where each of the pieces can be formed and shaped to create a specific cloud experience, wrapped together with workflow automation. They understand customer needs, and look at application and infrastructure requirements from the top down rather than from the components up. They don’t want separate, fixed components like network switches, storage arrays or servers. They want “tools” or building blocks to deliver workflow automation rather than independent storage, compute and network domains. They want the ability to shape the infrastructure around the data and applications, not the other way around.

The network is the central piece connecting compute and storage resources together. Over the last year, as Plexxi has brought its products and services to market, I have observed that traditional enterprise network deployments simply do not deliver the automation, programmability and agility that is needed for the cloud builder to support their modern private and public cloud initiatives.

The Future of Third Era Cloud Networks

Our newly announced cloud builder software suite offers the toolset to build Third Era cloud networks at scale. Plexxi enables the creation of public and private clouds in a new way, with interconnected compute and storage fully defined by software.

We know the Third Era of IT is here and new applications and uses of data will be developed. Plexxi has a unique solution to usher both private and public clouds into the next era of IT. The good news is that technology marches on and always offers ways to disrupt existing models. Plexxi is at the heart of this movement, offering simply a better network for converged infrastructure and cloud environments of tomorrow.

The Plexxi 2.2 Software Suite lets cloud builders create the environment they need with network fabric resources that can, based on the context of workload SLAs or events, control traffic distribution, L1 paths, and security.

  • Plexxi Connect Cloud Integration Suite lets cloud builders easily build knowledge of workload SLAs or events directly from the cloud orchestration systems like VMware and OpenStack, allowing better control of the network. This enables:
    • Zero-touch, automated network orchestration of VMware and OpenStack environments delivering unprecedented cloud insight, agility and business responsiveness while reducing the time required to deploy new services
    • Dynamic discovery and visualization of the virtualized environment
    • Zero-touch provisioning for new data and application workloads
    • Dynamic workload policy-based fabric control through integration with the workload managers
  • Dynamic Fabric Controls allow cloud builders to tailor the how the network resources are applied for specific customer use cases, or are dynamically applied based on workload SLAs or events. These capabilities include:
    • Fabric Control – efficiently distributes traffic across the fabric based on user specified parameters or learned traffic patterns.
    • Workload Control – dynamically allocates specific fabric resources to meet workload-specific SLAs (either persistent workload SLAs, or events like live migrations, scale-out storage data transfers, backups, etc.)
    • Flow Control – enables override capabilities for specific traffic flows delivering better security, improved traffic management and the creation of end-to-end managed paths instead of traditional next hop approaches
  • Layer 1 Traffic Distribution and Replication lets cloud builders leverage and control the L1 paths to achieve very specific workload needs like full stream replication at L1 or end-to-end path specification. These capabilities support stringent workload requirements like time sensitive data analytics, high performance computing, content distribution and high frequency trading. Specific features include:
    • Layer 1 traffic distribution through the fabric for Ethernet and non Ethernet traffic such as Fibre Channel and Infiniband
    • Point and click one-to-many data replication throughout the fabric for applications like market data distribution in the financial markets
  • Security Tool Suite allows cloud builders to better control security through integration with existing security tools and via traffic isolation capabilities. This includes:
    • Dynamic Security Affinities – workload-based security policies with L1-L4 granularity without having to hard-code specific access control lists into every switch and then manage the changes as workload components move around
    • Service Chaining – create specific flow paths that enforce traffic redirection to a security application or appliance for detailed analysis

With this combination of workload SLA and event information from cloud orchestration systems, and specific network resource controls in place, cloud builders have unprecedented ability to build the interconnect that meets the exact needs of their customers workload demands.

Plexxi Switch 3 provides NEW density and increased capacity for the cloud builder, including:

  • 10/25/40/50/100 GbE connectivity and 3.2 Tb switching capacity for supporting massive data growth in cloud environment
  • Less than 400 ns latency to support an ever-increasing amount of time-sensitive applications
  • 1 RU form factor and low-power consumption for optimized cloud-based data center resources

The next era of IT has new kinds of applications and requirements, and there are new IT architectures needed to meet requirements for agility, integration, and simplicity. There are new IT consumption models emerging, such as IT as a service in the public cloud and IT as a converged offering in the private cloud.

The cloud Builder generation needs to make the private cloud as easy to consume as the public cloud. Cloud builders need a better network solution delivering a toolset for programmability, automation and integration across storage, compute and network domains. They no longer want to purchase products as separate components. Plexxi Switches are scalable, dynamic and responsive, Plexxi Control software is intelligent, automated and application-driven, and Plexxi Connect provides processes and tools cloud builders can leverage to efficiently transition to the next era of IT. For more information, visit our products section.

Next generation Service Providers, building business models around private and public cloud services, are partnering with Plexxi to expand their product, tool and service offerings for cloud deployments. For more information on you can become a Plexxi partner click here.  

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