Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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HP Targets Web-Scale Datacenters With New Switches 

As cloud datacenters expand to handle web-scale workloads, network vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco System are placing more emphasis on the plumbing required to handle cloud and big data workloads.

The latest example comes from HP, which announced a line of new open network switches on Feb. 19 targeting web-scale cloud datacenters. The open switches were developed along with partners Accton Techology Corp. and Cumulus Networks. Taiwan-based Accton specializes in switch development and manufacturing while Cumulus Networks, Mountain View, Calif., was founded by former Cisco and VMware engineers.

HP said the new switches, positioned as part of an emerging category called "brite box" switches, would bring Cumulus Networks' Linux operating system to the datacenter networks. "Brite box" network switches are branded switches that fall between traditional and white-box switching.

HP said the two new open switches target 10G and 40G spine and 10G leaf datacenter deployments. Both switches will be available in March with the Cumulus Linux OS. Pricing for the switches will be available next month. HP said it would expand its network switch lineup in the second half of 2015 to include 25G, 50G and 100G switches targeting web-scale datacenters.

The Cumulus Linux networking OS will be offered as part of the new HP-branded open network switches, allowing datacenter operators to leverage expanded configuration, management and orchestration tools available through open source and commercial Linux communities. Those tools are increasingly needed to scale datacenters to handle cloud and big data workloads, the partners said.

The partners also are betting that web-scale datacenters will require expanded physical networking using Layer 2, Layer 3 and overlay architectures that are fine-tuned for cloud and big data workloads.

HP also is betting that it can differentiate its network switches by adopting the brite box approach that is designed to lower operating costs. The approach relies more heavily on standard hardware and open source software. The company claims the approach can reduce datacenter operating costs by up to 68 percent.

Meanwhile, HP partner Cumulus said its Linux OS is designed to reduce the cost and complexity of operating datacenters as the scale up handle expanded workloads.

HP, Cisco and other networking vendors have been shifting toward open source and industry networking standards as datacenter operators shift to web-scale workloads. Earlier this month, Cisco said it was extending its software-defined networking technology to support the industry standard BGP EVPN protocol (Border Gateway Protocol – Ethernet Virtual Private Network) used for overlay networks. BGP would serve as a control plane for its VXLAN virtual switches.

Cisco touted its support for networking protocol as expanding deployment choices in datacenters and cloud networks while making it easier to integrate with third-party network overlay controllers. The move also targets adoption of Cisco’s ACI by expanding use of the platform’s application policy framework that handles capabilities like integrated overlays as well as physical and virtual network visibility.

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