7 Signs

Data center network transformation has been a topic of on-going debate since James Hamilton’s infamous talk, Data Center Networks Are In My Way in 2009. Certainly, Cloud Giants – not traditional box-based networking vendors – have lead the way in network innovations for the past decade. But are there specific signs that mainstream IT organizations – enterprises and service providers – are also embarked on this journey?  

In this blog series and upcoming webinar, we identify clear signs of cloud innovations in networking that are extending to mainstream IT organizations.


Graphic courtesy of 650 Research

To identify concrete signs of DC network transformation in mainstream data centers, we will leverage the following principles of transformation:

  • Must be based on a technology or architectural construct
  • Has to be revolutionary (black and white)
  • Needs to have market traction (reasonable customer adoption)

For comparison, it's instructive lo look at past transformations in compute and networking.

1990s Compute Transformation (Mainframe/Mini to x86): Monolithic and proprietary systems dominated the compute world for many decades. Eventually, disaggregated stack based on x86 architecture transformed computing and brought tremendous innovation and cost savings. Standardization at the lower layers (x86 CPU, server hardware, Linux OS) enables innovations to move to upper layers. Emergence of applications based on client-server, server virtualization, cluster computing and micro-services have been driving innovations over the last two decades.  Cloud titans have built massive IaaS clouds with these fundamental technologies, which have drastically reduced up-front cost and provided unprecedented speed of service enablement.

1990s Network Transformation (Circuit-switched to Ethernet/IP): The 7-layer “disaggregated” OSI model of the Internet era, powered by Ethernet/IP, brought massive transformation to networking. It also allowed multiple networks, such as voice and video, to be converged onto a unified multi-service data network. This drastically reduced cost and enabled faster service enablement.

However, in the Web 2.0 era, networking started to become a bottleneck, a roadblock in the data center. It remained manual, imposed box-by-box operational complexity, brittle during change management and had high costs due to proprietary architecture and vendor lock-in. Time to service enablement extended from weeks to months. Cloud Giants were forced to innovate on their own, bypassing the traditional box-based networking vendors. They invested in dedicated engineering teams to develop and support home-grown networking solutions. In some cases, they forced box vendors to build specific hardware (e.g. merchant silicon-based switches) to drive their software innovations.

In this blog series and upcoming webinar, we will highlight 7 concrete signs that confirm data center network transformation is a reality in mainstream IT organizations (enterprises and service providers). Technological constructs, introduced by Cloud Giants for their own use, have matured and are being deployed in mainstream data centers. These constructs provide cloud-style benefits of massive simplification, tremendous service velocity (at the speed of VMs and containers) and dramatic cost reduction, both CAPEX and OPEX.

If you’re interested in learning more, please join Big Switch on Weds. Oct. 24th at 10am PDT for the webinar: Seven Signs of Data Center Network Transformation with Prashant Gandhi. To register for the webinar: https://bit.ly/2ysQvld

 Care to guess Sign 1?

Prashant Gandhi
VP & Chief Product Officer

Prashant is responsible for Big Switch's Cloud-First Networking portfolio and strategy, including: product management, product marketing, technology partnerships/solutions and technical marketing. Prashant has been instrumental in the product strategy and development of Big Cloud Fabric and Big Monitoring Fabric products. Additionally, Prashant is responsible for Big Switch led open-source initiative, Open Network Linux (ONL), to accelerate adoption of open networking and HW vendor choice. You can connect with Prashant on LinkedIn.