Looking to bridge a growing divide inside the data center Big Switch Networks announced today at the Open Network User Group (ONUG) Spring 2015 conference that its software-defined network (SDN) can now be integrated with NSX network virtualization software from VMware.
Prashant Gandhi, vice president of product management and strategy for Big Switch Networks, says that because NSX is widely deployed, IT organizations want to be able to embrace an open SDN platform that supports both NSX and emerging open source technologies that are deployed directly on top of x86 servers or commodity silicon, rather than switches based on proprietary ASIC processors.
In addition to supporting NSX, version 2.6 of the Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) controller from Big Switch Networks can also be integrated with VMware vCenter Server management software to simplify administration across both environments.
Finally, Big Switch Networks has also included flow tracing abilities across the fabric topology regardless of the type of source leaf switch, associated spine switch or destination leaf switch implemented. In addition, Gandhi says BCF also enables administrators to keep virtual machine and host properties, virtual machine mobility events, and host connectivity to the BCF leaf switches.
Gandhi says Big Switch Networks is trying to introduce a level of network agility that is currently missing from most data center environments. While virtual machines can be configured in a matter of minutes, it still takes days and weeks to provision associated networking resources. Because BCF doesn’t require a physical switch to be deployed, the SDN environment running on a bare metal swith is simpler to deploy and manage, says Gandhi.
“We’re trying to reduce capex costs while also providing operational simplicity that provides more agility,” says Gandhi. “Today everybody else gets to have fun while the network guy still has to do all the monkey work back in the lab.”
Gandhi also notes that introducing higher levels of automation into the networking environment will also enable Big Switch Networks to soon begin applying deeper levels of analytics to maximize the overall efficiency of the networking environment.
Just about everybody at this point agrees that the future of networking along with the rest of the data center is software defined. Not nearly as clear is the path to which SDN will be achieved inside the data center. Cisco, for example, makes a case for adding a layer of software on top of networking infrastructure that is already widely deployed inside data centers. Relative upstarts such as Big Switch Networks are making the case for moving SDN on to commodity IT infrastructure that is substantially less expensive than proprietary networking equipment.
Regardless of the path chosen the one thing that is for certain is that for better or worse network management inside the data center will soon be tightly integrated with every other piece of IT infrastructure inside the data center.