Company’s controller will let enterprises needing hyper-scale computing to add pods of servers

Google, Facebook and other hyperscale cloud providers have long built their own networking and server equipment to meet the huge demands put on their infrastructure.

Big Switch Networks, which builds solutions around software-defined networking, says other enterprises and service providers should have the same opportunity.

On Tuesday it said it will soon release an SDN software controller called Big Cloud Fabric for running on bare metal switches that it says gives smaller companies the advantages of hyperscale networking.

“This is not about replacing the entire data centre,” Prashan Gandhi, Big Switch’s vice-president of product management, said in an interview. “It’s about inserting in an existing data centre an innovative design based on a pod architecture,” which he described as bunch of racks of servers dedicated to a single function, such as big data, private cloud or virtual desktop infrastructure. Typically a 16 rack system with dual leaf and spine switches would need up to 34 switches, which under tradition architectures would have to be individually managed.  With Cloud Fabric providing the networking all switches are centrally managed.

“We are seeing customers forced to add infrastructure because of private cloud,VDI, big data, yet they’re not able to grow their staff,” he said.

With an SDN fabric, there is a single pane of glass, which he said offers operational efficiencies.

Forrester Research enterprise networking analyst Andre Kindness said the approach has interest among a group of customers including cloud providers, so-called hyper-scale companies and enterprises like financial trading companies that need cutting-edge technology as they craft unique solutions in their data centres.

Big Cloud Fabric will be released before the end of September. Pricing was not released. It is being pushed as a way for organizations to add pods of servers to existing infrastructure in a leaf-and-spine architecture with switches using the Switch Light operating system.

The software, which will run on bare metal switches offered by a number of partners including Dell, will be sold in two versions: the P-Clos Edition, for creating a leaf and spine Clos fabric with physical switches; and the Unified P-V Clos Edition, a virtual switch.

SDN is still in its early stages, with most organizations still evaluating the practicality of deployments. Big Switch Networking has just released version 4.0 of its Big Tap monitoring fabric, which includes an SDN controller for overseeing bare metal switches using the SwitchLight OS. However, while he touted a number of customer wins Gandhi acknowledged that so far none are Canadian-based organizations.

That should change when Big Tap is sold with Dell bare metal switches, he said, which is coming shortly.

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