IT organizations have taken advantage of open ecosystems ever since proprietary mainframe architectures and tools gave way to client-server architectures.  The networking industry today though looks much like the mainframe computing market of 40 years ago, with a small number of industry players producing vertically-integrated solutions where both software and hardware are single-sourced. This practice has led to a proprietary “black-box” industry culture in which innovations are stifled, leaving companies overly dependent and locked into a single networking vendor.  These solutions are overly expensive and inflexible, lacking the agility to meet the demands of today’s application deployment and management.

Dell provides customers a unique approach to the new paradigm of Software Defined Networking (SDN) through disaggregation.  Disaggregation brings customers flexibility, choice, and innovation.   This is accomplished in three ways: disaggregation of operating system and hardware; disaggregation of virtual networking and physical networking; and disaggregation of the control plane and data plane. Through disaggregation, customers are able to build more agile networks with significant capex and opex savings.  Dell simplifies the overall network and opens the architecture to allow customer choice across the entire networking infrastructure – building highly reliable, flexible, customer centric solutions. 

 

Disaggregating the operating system and hardware

The disaggregated model, which decouples switch hardware from the network operating system, is a further step in innovation on the software side. Traditional networking mirrors the server industry 15 years ago where the hardware, OS, and applications tended to be from a single vendor.  This resulted in vendor lock in, added complexity to operate, reduced flexibility, and excessively high TCO. 

Disaggregated networking hardware supports different network operating systems through use of the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE). This enables zero-touch installation of network operating systems onto open network switches. In addition to open standard hardware, a complete open networking ecosystem is growing, including off the shelf merchant silicon chips, and multiple operating systems such as Dell OS9, Cumulus Linux OS, Big Switch Light OS, IP Infusion OcNOS, and Pluribus Netvisor OS.  This approach gives customers choice of the appropriate OS for their environment.  It also gives customers flexibility and a range of options for controller overlays and orchestration tools. 

Resources:

Video: Dell Open Networking

Webinar - VMware Data Centers with Dell Open Networking & Big Cloud Fabric

Video: Cumulus Networks, Dell and Red Hat’s 300+ Node OpenStack Pod

Whitepapers

Dell Open Networking and SDN White Paper

SDN Based Open Networking Building Momentum Among IT Decision Makers Tech Target Research Brief

Articles

Open Networking Takes Hold

 

Disaggregating virtual networking from physical networking

Network Virtualization Overlay (NVO) solutions offer one of the most simple and cost-effective paths to delivering the benefits of SDN for virtualized and private cloud solutions.  Often for application provisioning in the data center, the network can be the major bottle neck for deployment often taking months for provisioning. NVOs are able to reduce provisioning of the network from months to days.   They also offer non-disruptive deployment over existing physical networks as well as future deployments. 

NVOs connect server hypervisors directly to other hypervisors via logical tunnels, enabling the creation of multiple virtual networks over one common physical network. Technologies like VXLAN and NVGRE are used for tackling issues with virtual networking. Leading cloud and virtualization suites, including Microsoft, VMware and OpenStack, are currently integrating the network overlay technology into their platforms.  Dell’s open strategy for NVO compliments and strengthens the integrated network virtualization frameworks ensuring deep integration and strategic alignment.                                

Resources:

Network Virtualization with Dell Infrastructure and VMware NSX

Network Virtualization with Dell and VMware NSX Video Demo

Dell Networking Multitenancy Across Physical and Logical Environments with VRF lite and VMware NSX

 Dell S6000 Data Center Switch Gateway for VMware NSX Solution Brief

Greater Business Agility with Network Virtualization Overlays Whitepaper

Dell CLI for vSphere Distributed Switch

Chalk Talk on Network Virtualization and Vmware NSX 

Introduction to the Dell S6000 Layer 2 Gateway for VMware NSX 

NSX Technical Deep Dive Videos from VMworld

Dell Networking - VXLAN Technical Brief

The Best Network for VMware NSX is Open Webinar

Whitepaper: Realize the Full Promise of Network Virtualization with Dell EMC Open Networking and VMware NSX

 

Disaggregating the control plane and data plane

Control plane solutions provide a separation of control and data planes by using a central control server to maintain networking protocols and databases and to program forwarding information directly into switch forwarding tables.  Similar to NVOs, these allow centralized, automated control of the network, eliminating fragile and complex protocols and the manual, error-prone processes inherent to conventional networks. 

Most controllers write to the OpenFlow protocol.  Dell was among the earliest supporters of OpenFlow and provides an available option across our data center switches, where we have made significant innovations beyond basic standards compliance, including support for up to 160,000 flows on select hardware. Our open approach to SDN offers support for any standards-compliant OpenFlow controller on the market, providing customer choice and investment protection.

Resources:

Cornell Optimizes Network Management with Dell SDN and OpenFlow Video

IIHT Cloud Solutions Case Study

Dell OpenFlow Deployment and User Guide Version 3.0

OpenFlow Technical Brief: A look at a hybrid-enabled OpenFlow deployment

NEC PF6800 SDN Controller Starter Kit Solution Brief

NEC PF6800 ProgrammableFlow Software Defined Networking Controller Brochure

 

Summary 

Dell SDN solutions deliver the industry’s most comprehensive breadth of next-generation networking solutions — providing a dynamic and adaptable framework with unprecedented investment protection. Active Fabric delivers a simple and powerful model that can empower enterprises to advance at their own pace, leveraging the power of software to deliver a new operational model that evolves with the pace of business.

Resources:

2015 SDx Cloud Management Report

2015 Special Report: Network Virtualization in the Data Center

POV: Software-defined networking (SDN): a Dell point of view

Open Networking and SDN Whitepaper

What can SDN do for the Enterprise Quistreet White Paper

 

 

Open Networking and the Software Defined Data Center