As the calendar year comes to an end, I wanted to share some thoughts on 2016, our progress as a company, and the clear trends we are seeing as the industry moves toward enterprise datacenter modernization and deployment of private cloud infrastructures.

This year we have had several major Plexxi deployments at scale that have positioned us well for major growth in 2017 and beyond. We have learned much as a company, but most importantly, we understand our product, market fit, and the trends driving demand for our technology.

The transformation of today’s modern datacenter is happening as we speak. It’s not coming; it’s here. Of course, this is partly a result of organizations wanting to capitalize on new advances in technology (ex. flash for data storage and NVMeoF).  But, the major driver of this transformation, I contend, is more about how people are expecting to consume IT services, and how organizations are re-designing their IT infrastructure to efficiently deliver these services to their customers.

Everywhere I look today: compute, storage, network, applications – all are being offered as a service, whether by the vendor that sells them, or the datacenter that consumes them. What enterprise software company is not delivering their software as a service? What service provider is not thinking of deploying network functions in software? What storage company is not building software-defined storage systems?  The major challenge that everyone faces is in delivering these services on an infrastructure that is agile, cost-effective, and scalable.

Customers consuming IT as a service want guaranteed availability, performance, and security for that service. They want to know that when the service is needed, it is there and meets their Service Level Agreement (SLA) objectives. Providers of the service know that being agile to react to customer needs and easily scalable to increase service capacity are key. They also know that the scale-up architectures of the past era are a dead-end proposition for building out their service oriented infrastructure. They simply can’t provide the flexibility and non-disruptive growth path required to cost-effectively deliver IT as a service at scale.

There is a new approach to deploying IT infrastructure in the datacenter that is here, right now, today.  And, it is changing the way datacenter architects look at the next-generation datacenter. It is called the software-defined datacenter (SDDC), and its time has come.

Software-defined means that the key datacenter components (compute, storage, and network) are implemented and controlled through software. These components still require hardware on which to run, but with software-defined implementations, the components of the datacenter are no longer monolithic and non-standard, but rather are a collection of smaller, discrete components that can be deployed, aggregated and separated based on the current needs of the enterprise infrastructure and applications. “Software-defined” enables the ability to “dial-up” IT capacity when and where it is needed using industry standard components, APIs, and software control.

So what’s really changed? How is “software-defined” so fundamentally different? Well, first of all, software-defined is impacting traditional IT vendors in a big way. Traditional, scale-up compute, storage, and network systems will eventually go the way of the dinosaur and are already being impacted by hyperconvergence in the datacenter. If you rely on these scale-up systems today, they will not fundamentally change in the future. As such, your datacenter will continue to be challenged with complexity and cost, and your approach to deploying and managing datacenter infrastructure will remain the same. Vendor-lock-in, upfront overprovisioning, redundant infrastructure, multiple user interfaces, and reduced agility will remain major challenges.

The Software Defined Datacenter is essential for organizations that want to consolidate their datacenter assets, and adopt a more efficient and cost-effective way of deploying datacenter resources. To be able to independently dial-up compute, storage, and network resources to support the latest scale-out applications and infrastructure is fundamental to making the datacenter agile and efficient. Nowhere is this change more drastic and apparent than in the network!

Today’s traditional networks, designed for the client/server age of computing, weren’t designed in THIS era of computing to solve TODAY’S problems. While hyperconverged compute and storage systems are rapidly gaining footprint in the modern datacenter, traditional networking technology has lagged and often hampered these deployments. Traditional leaf/spine network vendors simply have not evolved their solutions to fit the software-defined datacenter paradigm, forcing organizations to continue to use a very static, monolithic networking approach to datacenter deployment. Until now…

Plexxi’s software-defined network represents a major break-through for the modern software-defined datacenter, enabling organizations to make compute, storage, and networking available to infrastructure consumers as a cloud-like service. This means that organizations can implement a true hyperconverged infrastructure that includes compute, storage, and the hyperconverged network, and through software, deliver datacenter resources in a very granular fashion. No more upfront overprovisioning, no complex cabling, no rip and replacement of infrastructure to react to change. Plexxi networking was built for this next generation of IT, delivering a very flexible and scalable network solution.

Plexxi’s software stack and Plexxi switches represent the network building blocks for today’s modern software-defined network. Plexxi’s network solution can non-disruptively scale from one to hundreds of instances, and deliver tens to thousands of compute elements, and petabytes of storage to datacenter consumers.

Plexxi’s capabilities are not theoretical; they’re very real. We have deployed our network at scale in a variety of customer use cases. And, we are a proven, vital component of hyperconverged infrastructure deployments, significantly improving agility and reducing datacenter complexity and costs.

There are numerous examples today of Plexxi’s ability to provide IT services at scale.

  • A large government agency uses Plexxi networking to scale out it’s VDI solution, offering it as a service to over 40,000 users. With Plexxi, this customer has significantly reduced desktop booting times by 5x over its previous leaf/spine network, which they found too inflexible and inefficient.
  • A cloud service provider relies on Plexxi to deliver platform infrastructure as a service to its customers. Plexxi delivered the agility and scale they needed to quickly rollout new capacity and optimize performance for their service customers.
  • A major telco provider uses Plexxi to deliver network function virtualization (NFV) that enabled them to align key network services with their virtualized infrastructure, significantly reducing their reliance on proprietary hardware appliances for functions, such as: firewalling, intrusion detection, caching and load balancing.
  • A large enterprise customer who has selected Plexxi to be the network for their Nutanix Hyperconverged service delivery platform for Storage and Compute services.

In all of these instances, critical infrastructure is delivered as a service to consumers using Plexxi as the network. And it doesn’t stop there. As we at Plexxi look toward the future, we believe that the requirements for agility and flexibility will continue to expand, especially as new types of services, such as Amazon’s AWS Lambda compute time services, are introduced in the market.

Plexxi enables you to build the service delivery platform for today’s modern datacenter. If you plan to deploy the latest scale-out applications and infrastructure, such as HCI, scale-out storage, big data analytics, or hybrid clouds, let us help you modernize your datacenter with Plexxi networking.

All of the pieces of the software-defined datacenter are here today, supporting the vision of the agile datacenter. The path of least resistance in the short term is to simply continue along with the same technologies and products you’ve always used. But that’s not the path I’d bet on. The path of greatest return is in embracing the vision and promise of the software-defined datacenter and the agile consumer services it can provide. Plexxi is the network for the next-generation, datacenter provider.

I would like to take this moment to thank all of the employees of Plexxi, our investors, our technology and GTM partners, and our customers for their trust and support. We wish you all the best this holiday season. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Rich

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