#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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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?
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.
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”
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.