In the Platform 2 Era, we built our infrastructure on three-tiered, static (Client, Server and Storage) architectures. For 20 years we have been building the infrastructure first and then pouring the applications and data into this static infrastructure.
In Platform 3, the requirements on the infrastructure are very different; the infrastructure needs to be flexible and dynamic. The infrastructure must be built around the data and applications because application usage is unpredictable. The days of predictable silo-based architectures are gone. Applications are growing at a tremendous rate, scaling horizontally, and storage data sets are enormous.
As a result, Platform 3 data center architectures require a dynamic infrastructure that responds to requirements for elasticity, geographic distribution, flexibility, and security of modern infrastructure. We need to be able to build private clouds with the agility and flexibility of the public cloud. Google, Plexxi’s most recent investor, understands this. At the 2015 ONS Summit, Amin Vahdat, Google Fellow and Technical Networking Lead highlighted this when he said, “Networking is at an inflection point in driving next-generation computing architecture
Attempting to build Platform 3 infrastructure using 20 year-old networking technology is failing to meet expectations due to poor application performance, and will result in unnecessarily high capital (CAPEX) and operating (OPEX) costs.
Enterprises are looking to bring the agility, elasticity and cost-savings of the public cloud into their own private clouds. Private clouds are deploying a growing footprint of converged infrastructure and highly virtualized, software-defined storage and compute. The goal is to create a distributed and elastic pool of resources offering a single workload and application mobility domain. Attempting to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s technology, however, is not a recipe for success.
Public Cloud providers are radically changing the architecture of the infrastructure they are using to deliver services. We must build an alternative to the public cloud that is dynamic and flexible. The only way to do that is to use modern technology like Plexxi that offers a more flexible and extremely cost-effective alternative to the public cloud.
The Move to Converged Infrastructure
If you look at Platform 3 designs, one of the first things Cloud Builders do is move to Converged Infrastructure (CI). When they move to Platform 3 CI, they eliminate the fibre channel SAN from their design. By eliminating Fibre Channel they do several things.
First, in moving to a CI architecture, they take a network that was specifically designed for North/South traffic and client/server oriented transactions, and instantly bring 8-10x the amount of data on to the existing network.
Second, by eliminating the SAN they eliminate the storage controller. When the controller is removed, all of the metadata traffic that used to traverse the controller’s internal bus, now runs across the IP network in a predominantly east/west fashion.
If you look at scaled-out storage systems like Isilon as an example, it has a segregated InfiniBand network that is used entirely for metadata. Long ago, the storage industry recognized the sensitivity and importance of metadata in overall storage system availability and performance.
If you look at VSAN, ScaleIO or any modern Platform 3 storage system, they are SAN-less and bring all the storage and meta-data traffic onto the IP network.
We like to say that, “Flash solved the disk latency problem, but now the network becomes the next bottleneck for storage, especially in the Converged Infrastructure SAN-less world.”
One last example: A $30B revenue company (and now a Plexxi customer) was running a classic Oracle RDB for their transaction system. When they turned to a Hadoop application to run analytics, their transaction system dramatically slowed down. Why? Because with the introduction of Hadoop analytics, their Platform 2 network went from operating just fine, to experiencing trouble. The newly introduced east/west traffic created “micro-bursts” of network congestion that were disruptive to the business.
How Plexxi Solves the Imminent Network Requirements of CI & Storage
Plexxi is an ideal Network for converged infrastructure and storage because it allows you to separate out each of the data types of storage subsystems in your network.
This separation is under software control and completely automated to the application or operating environment. Plexxi Connect’s Open Integration Platform allows seamless integration with these operating environments and applications. Through this integration it is possible to understand the very nature of the data and application workload’s requirements on the network. From there, Plexxi Connect feeds these requirement into the Plexxi Controller where the Plexxi Control software can then “Fit and Render” a network topology. This process of “Fitting and Rendering” creates an optimal network configuration for the specific use case at any given moment in time. This topology is pushed down to the underlying Plexxi hardware, which can consist of “white-box” switches or Plexxi designed hardware.
In other design approaches, separate physical and static networks would need to be built. The Plexxi solution on the other hand, allows multiple physical and logically separate networks to be rendered on a single optically meshed fabric.
Plexxi allows storage and compute resources to be shaped around applications and data to enable Platform 3 infrastructure for the Cloud Builder of the future.
Plexxi is building a simply better network for Converged Infrastructure and Storage.