INTEROP REPORT: A new platform merges a switch with blades to deliver virtualized networking applications. Also, the Open Compute Project expands into networking

Barracuda reveals virtual networking appliance

Virtualizing server applications has being going around for years. Virtualizing network functions is a bit more complex.

Barracuda Network’s new eoN platform is an attempt to make it simpler for data centre managers by consolidating several networking applications on one appliance.

It’s a switch/blade combination with a network-optimized hypervisor that the company says allows virtual versions of firewalls, Web filters and anti-spam software to run with greater throughput than other solutions.

It was one of a number of new products announced Wednesday at Interop Las Vegas, including news from WatchGuard Technologies, Juniper Networks and the Open Compute Project.

John Peterson, Barracuda’s vice president network virtualization platforms, said in an interview the company believes there will be dramatic costs savings from the approach. He couldn’t quantify the amount, but said that in any data centre there are multiple appliances that take up space, draw power and have cable complexity. The eoM approach means there’s only one appliance.
(Barracuda’s eoN 14000)

eoN comes in five models: 1U, two 2U boxes, a 5U and a 14U chassis. Each has a switch and at least one Intel Xeon-powered server blade for holding virtual applications. The hypervisor is derived from KVM and is optimized for I/O virtualization, Peterson said, so the appliances can have high throughput.

For example, the top line model 14000 has a 240 Gpbs backplane fabric. The 2U models have 20 Gbps.

Models also vary by the number of CPU cores. The eoN 2012 has six cores with 12 threads, for example, while the 14000 has 192 cores with 384 threads. Larger models also have more storage.

Applications available now are the Barracuda NG Firewall, Web Application Firewall and Maltrace.

Barracuda says eoN will work with software-defined networks (SDN) and is designed to integrate with OpenFlow-enabled devices.

Pricing starts at US$16,500. In Canada Barracuda products are available through a range of integrators including Natrix Technologies Inc. of Montreal, Edgeworx Solutions Inc. of Markham, Ont., and Global Edge Systems and Wireless of Calgary.

Also at Interop, Frank Frankovsky, the chairman of the Open Compute Project for building smarter data centre technologies, said the organization is starting a new project to develop a specification and a reference box for an open, operating system-agnostic top-of-rack switch.

Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook, has volunteered to lead the project. He said a number of organizations — including Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Facebook, Intel, Netronome, OpenDaylight, the Open Networking Foundation, and VMware — are planning to participate.

In a blog he explained that the OCP has to connect the technologies its working on to back-box switches that aren’t designed to scale.

More details on the networking project will be revealed at a conference next week at MIT.

“It’s our hope that an open, disaggregated switch will enable a faster pace of innovation in the development of networking hardware; help software-defined networking continue to evolve and flourish; and ultimately provide consumers of these technologies with the freedom they need to build infrastructures that are flexible, scalable, and efficient across the entire stack,” he said in the blog.

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