Optical switch specialist Calient Technologies and data centre switch developer Plexxi have joined forces to bring the benefits of a software-defined optical layer – namely increased flexibility and efficiency with decreased complexity – into the data centre environment.
The integrated products were displayed at OFC/NFOEC in March. Aimed at large-scale data centres, this integration employs the major principle of software-defined networking (SDN): a centralized controller operating with a network-wide view to drive forwarding behaviour.
Plexxi says its switches provide high-performance, low-latency 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Ethernet access connections, which interconnect via a high-density, high-capacity optical mesh network. Plexxi Control provides server-based software to dynamically and continuously compute connectivity options to satisfy all workload needs. The integration with Calient’s S320 optical switch takes this to the next level by extending the advantage of the software-defined optical layer to large enterprises and hyper-scale cloud data centers, the company says.
By integrating these two products, the Plexxi/Calient combination is able to abstract the entire network and relate network capabilities back to what users actually need to accomplish. The result, the companies say, is dynamic network behaviour based on real-time information, which allows applications and network analytics to determine and implement the network structure needed to maximize the use of existing network resources.
The Plexxi Switch handles short, bursty data flows through its Ethernet-based fabric and also provides an optical multiplexing layer for intermediate-sized flows. When large persistent flows are detected, these are routed through the Calient S320, thereby freeing up the packet-based network and optical multiplexing layer. Plexxi Control detects and manages the data flows through the hybrid packet-circuit network, ultimately improving latency and flexibility.
“The hybrid data center network concept, while still new, resonates with customers who see a future that includes dramatic growth and need solutions that can help to alleviate bottlenecks,” said Daniel Tardent, vice president of marketing at Calient. “SDN is the ideal technology to tie together the packet and optical circuit networks. The alliance with Plexxi provides a great opportunity to showcase the very real benefits for large data centres.”
The Plexxi/CALIENT integration is currently in Beta release with general availability planned for Q2 2013.
By Pauline Rigby
Press release: CALIENT Technologies and Plexxi Partner to Bring Software-Defined Networking to Large-Scale Data Center Networks