2 min read

Network gear vendor ships SDN starter kit

Infrastructure

Software-defined networking company Big Switch Networks Inc. has shipped its first batch data centre switching fabric on bare metal Ethernet switch hardware and SDN software.

Called the Big Cloud Fabric (BCF), Big Switch is marketing the hardware and software package as an SDN starter kit for enterprise and said the company has already secured more than $1 million in pre-orders since BCF’s announcement in July. SDN is an approach to computer networking employs a layer of software to control networks in a more abstract manner. With SDN, network administrators and engineers can interact with applications rather than ports.

With the increasing adoption of SDN, bare metal or white box switches are gaining popularity. These switches are built on merchant silicon that come with less features than proprietary chips but are lower in cost and provide more flexible switching options. White box switches allow network vendors and users to choose their network operating systems based on their needs.

BCF essentially provide hardware and software needed for SDN lab proof of concept to a two-rack production network for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds as well as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and big data projects.

Big Switch said it developed its BCF starter kit in response to a growing need in the market for solutions based on bare metal Ethernet switch hardware.

The kit is priced a $99,000 and includes four lead and two spine bare metal switches (10 Gigabit Ethernet/40 Gigabit Ethernet), redundant controller appliances, a three year Big Cloud fabric software licence, three years of hardware/software support and 40 Gigabit Ethernet leaf-spine cables.

Douglas Murray, CEo of Big Switch, said initial customer purchases range from two racks to 16 racks.

“We met an aggressive timeline and are getting great reviews from customers and partners who have been testing the product. Initial customers’ purchases range from two racks to 16 racks, with up to 16K VMs (virtual machines),” he said. “I couldn’t be happier with the Big Switch team and their execution.”

Initial orders are coming at a time when the market for solutions based on bare metal ethernet switch hardware is accelerating.

Telecommunications market research firm Infonetics Research reported recently that white box switch revenue for the second quarter of 2014 rose 95 per cent from a year ago and is creating a big impact in data centre networking.

Data centre Ethernet switch revenue grew 12 per cent in the second quarter from the first quarter this year to $2.1 billion. White box switches accounted for six per cent of revenue and 12 per cent of ports shipped in the data centre space during the second quarter, the report said.

“White box switching continues to be a transformational element in data centre networking, with white box switch port shipments already accounting for 12 per cent of data centre Ethernet ports shipped,” said Cliff Grossner, directing analyst for data centre, cloud and SDN at Infonetics.

He said, as an example, Dell is entering the market for data centre-in-a-rack and application-in-a-rack in partnership with VMware and Cumulus Networks. The partners are using Dell’s bare metal physical switch with Cumulus’ switch operating system.

More recently San Jose, Calif.-based virtual platform vendor Nutanix offered Canadian channel partners its NX-9000 appliance, an all-flash hyper-converged platform, data centre-in-a-box solution.

The company recently announced a partnership with Dell and is considering working with Dell channel partners in Canada.