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Cisco Switching Alternatives - Interop NYC 2013

2713ce8f9b3998a74cf3dee9b86ce7e5?s=47 Ethan Banks
October 02, 2013

Cisco Switching Alternatives - Interop NYC 2013

This session provides an overview of Cisco competitors in the Ethernet switching space, including not only established players but also startups taking innovative and original approaches.

2713ce8f9b3998a74cf3dee9b86ce7e5?s=128

Ethan Banks

October 02, 2013
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  1. Alternatives To Cisco Ethernet Switches Ethan Banks, CCIE #20655 Packet

    Pushers Podcast Host http://packetpushers.net
  2. Introduction – 1 Who am I? •  Ethan Banks, CCIE

    #20655. •  Real-life network architect. •  Co-host of the Packet Pushers Podcast. •  Freelance writer for Network Computing, Network World, TechTarget. •  Just so you know…I am a Cisco, Juniper & Arista switch user. In the past, I have worked on HP & Cabletron switches. Also, these and several other companies I’ll talk about are actively or have been customers of mine.
  3. Introduction - 2 Do you recognize these?

  4. Introduction - 3 What about these?

  5. Introduction - 4 Why Cisco? •  Familiarity. Going with what

    you know is often a driver for purchase decisions. •  Risk avoidance. •  No one gets fired for buying Cisco. Who could blame you? •  Cisco is a huge company. They’ll be there tomorrow. •  Lots of support folks available. You’ll need someone someday. •  Reputation. Everyone knows Cisco.
  6. Introduction - 5 Why not Cisco? •  Cisco wants to

    sell you lots of new hardware. •  Tending to be technology trailers, not innovators. •  Many competitors have innovated to win mindshare. •  Cisco often doesn’t win on price, neither capex nor opex. •  Going from Catalyst to Nexus impacts operations.
  7. Introduction - 6 Assuming you’re open minded… •  There are

    many Ethernet switching competitors. •  Some compete on price. •  Some compete on features. •  Some want to offer an integrated DC solution. •  The most innovative technology in the space (fabrics, SDN, OpenFlow) have been coming from Cisco competitors.
  8. Introduction - 7 …let’s talk. •  One category of competitor

    are the established players. Let’s place Avaya, Brocade, HP, Extreme/ Enterasys, Dell Force10, Arista, IBM, Juniper, and Netgear (!) here. •  The other category I think of as outliers. This includes Plexxi, Gnodal, Pica8, Cumulus, NEC, Mellanox, and Big Switch.
  9. Introduction - 8 What Might Drive An Ethernet Switch Purchase?

    •  Price – capex & opex •  Performance – oversubscription vs. non-blocking •  Heat & Power – BTUs, watts per port •  Port density – how many ports fits in an RU? •  Latency – roughly defined as the amount of time it takes to deliver a datagram port to port •  Programmability – OpenFlow? Other API?
  10. Established Players - 1 Avaya •  Purchased Nortel’s enterprise business

    in 2009. •  Full switch range suitable for the enterprise space. •  Differentiator: Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) •  Fabric Connect component of VENA is probably the most interesting element – Shortest Path Bridging (802.1aq). At L2 VLANs are mapped to service IDs. At L3, VRFs. Result is dynamic mobility for VMs.
  11. Established Players - 2 Brocade •  Purchased Foundry Networks in

    2008. •  Mostly thought of as a storage player, but has pushed hard to get more of the data center business. •  Full range of switches. •  Differentiators: VCS Fabric (based on TRILL), AMPP, “ease of use”
  12. Established Players - 3 Hewlett-Packard (HP) •  Purchased 3Com in

    2009. •  Excessively full range of switches. •  Product lines are a mix of “ProCurve” and “H3C”. •  Differentiator: FlexNetwork Architecture (FlexFabric, FlexCampus, FlexBranch), IRF •  “Flex” is a collection of technologies HP assembles (TRILL, SPB, IRF, EVB, VEPA).
  13. Established Players - 4 Extreme & Enterasys •  Extreme purchased

    Enterasys in 2013. •  Does this match up mean something? •  Almost no sales territory overlap. •  $600M in aggregate revenue expected. •  Extreme is all Broadcom. Enterasys has custom ASICs. •  Enterasys is a strong wifi play, anticipates all-wifi access layer. •  Enterasys brings strong network management to the table.
  14. Established Players - 5 Extreme & Enterasys •  Extreme has

    a full line of switches, but not “exciting.” •  Enterasys might be the best kept secret in enterprise networking. Mature solution – since 2001. •  Differentiator: CoreFlow ASIC allows Enterasys to track L4-L7 data about endpoints & apply policy. •  Integrations with AirWatch, Citrix, iBoss, MobileIron, PaloAlto, VMware, Hyper-V.
  15. Established Players - 6 Dell Force10 •  Dell purchased Force10

    in 2011. •  Dell’s offerings are a mix of SMB gear (generic Dell) & “Data Center Networking” gear (Force10). •  The point for Dell is to have a play across the entire DC, complementing their storage & server business. •  Differentiator: Dell Networking Open Automation
  16. Established Players - 7 Arista •  Value proposition is high-density,

    low-latency switches at a low cost per port. •  Emphasis on engineer-friendliness. •  Focused on high-volume data centers. •  Arista espouses a L3 mesh with L2 overlay design. •  Differentiator: Extensible OS, their pride & joy. •  OpenWorkload leverages EOS.
  17. Established Players - 8 IBM •  IBM acquired Blade Network

    Technologies in 2010. •  IBM doesn’t want to sell you a switch. They want to sell you a business system (that includes switches). •  Differentiator: Flex System Fabric Network – integrated FC, FCoE, Ethernet, & Infiniband managed by a single GUI (with CLI for the fancy stuff), and extended into the virtual switching layer.
  18. Established Players - 9 Juniper •  2 main switching lines:

    QFX & EX. •  QFX are positioned for top-of-rack or end-of-row data center deployment, and as the access layer of a QFabric system. •  EX are positioned for enterprise, campus, DC & service provider. •  Full line of switches. •  Network engineers tend to love Junos. •  Differentiator – Virtual Chassis. Manage up to 10 switches as a single device.
  19. Established Players - 10 Netgear •  Who? Don’t they make

    consumer grade gear to sell at big box stores? •  They are highly visible in the consumer space, but do sell enterprise gear…and have for years. Roots go back to Bay Networks (remember them?) •  Differentiator – simplicity for the SMB customer.
  20. Outliers - 1 Plexxi •  Thought leaders in the SDN

    space. •  Data from applications & flow inform a controller. •  Operators configure “affinities”. •  Differentiator – hardware & software solution. •  Novel optical interconnect using DWDM providing direct links to a mesh of switches, “LightRail”. •  Controller programs optimal paths based on affinities. •  Data Services Engine normalizes & abstracts data sources.
  21. Outliers - 2 Gnodal •  L2 Ethernet switching with proprietary

    interconnects for “high performance” environments. •  Going after Infiniband environments. •  Distributed core. •  Scales to 64K ports & 52 million MACs. •  Differentiator – Peta ASIC + custom algorithms result in nearly 100% fabric utilization.
  22. Outliers - 3 Pica8 •  Emphasis on open networking via

    PicOS. •  They make 4 “white box” switches, all non-blocking with 1 microsecond or less latency. •  Reportedly low cost per port. •  Differentiator - a cheap switch with all the usual L2/ L3 functionality, plus support for OpenFlow 1.3 to support any sort of clever SDN you’d like to deploy.
  23. Outliers - 4 Cumulus •  This isn’t a switch…it’s a

    “Linux operating system for networking hardware.” Load Cumulus Linux on a bare metal switch; run the network Linux-y. •  They are not merely based on Linux, but are in fact completely Linux, bash shell and all. •  Differentiator – run open-source OS & tools on your network hardware*. Leave behind proprietary. *just be sure to check the tiny HCL.
  24. Outliers - 5 NEC ProgrammableFlow •  ProgrammableFlow is an OpenFlow-based

    combination of a controller and Ethernet switches. •  By SDN, I mean you don’t configure these switches directly. You plumb them to the controller, and use the controller to configure the switches via OpenFlow. •  Differentiator - the most mature pure SDN solution on the market.
  25. Outliers - 6 Mellanox •  High performance, non-blocking data center-focused

    switches using custom ASICs. •  ConnectX – NICs •  SwitchX - switches •  Open-sourced their OS, calling it “Open Ethernet”. •  Differentiator: run Ethernet and Infiniband in the same switch, and bridge between the two.
  26. Outliers - 7 Big Switch •  A longtime leader in

    the SDN space. •  Solution is an OpenFlow controller + switch OS. •  Big Switch Controller is the commercial offering. •  FloodLight is the open source offering. •  Switch Light – thin OS programmed via OpenFlow to run on bare metal switches. •  Main applications are Big Virtual Switch & Big Tap. •  Differentiator – long list of partners.
  27. Concluding Thoughts Should I really think about SDN when buying

    an Ethernet switch? •  Yes. You might not need SDN today, but vendors see SDN as the next big thing to drive technology, and consequently sales. Wise to keep up. •  Don’t get hung up on OpenFlow, but keep track of it. •  The OpenDaylight Project could end up being important. Monitor progress.
  28. QoS Collaborative Q & A Q & A

  29. Stay In Touch! Where you can find me… •  http://PacketPushers.net

    Podcast (iTunes) •  http://ethancbanks.com Blog •  http://NetworkComputing.com Blog •  @ecbanks Twitter •  ethan.banks@packetpushers.net E-mail •  Also LinkedIn & Google Plus