Big Cloud Fabric delivers an ideal IP storage network for Hyper-converged (HCI) and software-defined storage (SDS) environments

BCF delivers IP storage network intelligence, flexibility and agility.


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Enterprise IT is challenged today to build their software-defined data center infrastructure that supports cloud-native applications, drives business velocity and works within flat budgets.

Enterprise data storage is undergoing a transformation driven by flash, virtualization, unstructured data, and hyper-convergence infrastructure (HCI).

Storage teams are being tasked to offer agile, on-demand private cloud offerings. This requires rapid provision and deployment of both compute and storage instances in order to accelerate IT’s move towards software-defined data centers (SDDC).

Storage transformation is demanding storage network innovation. IP storage networks need to automatically extend tenant-based definitions of VMs, containers and rapidly reconfigure during workload movements.

Traditional IP storage networks have been a barrier to data center transformation. So, traditional approach based on proprietary, box-by-box designs of IP storage is being replaced with distributed, software-defined storage architectures on open hardware.

Big Cloud Fabric – Ideal Network for IP Storage

Big Cloud Fabric (BCF), a next generation data center switching architecture, is an ideal fabric for IP Storage including hyper-converged (HCI) infrastructure, software-defined storage as well as traditional IP storage.

First, BCF is not bound by legacy box-by-box operational paradigm. Instead its software-defined fabric acts as “one logical switch” that simplifies operations, provides full visibility & telemetry, and enables rapid service chaining at the network level. This drives business velocity.

Second, BCF works on open networking hardware to reduce costs and provide hardware vendor choice. Using industry standard open networking switches (white-box or brite-box), customers can deploy best-of-breed, merchant-silicon based network hardware at an affordable price.

Third, with the SDN fabric architecture, BCF provides built-in network automation to enable rapid deployment of applications and services. BCF’s zero-touch operations and upgrade enable IT team to manage and troubleshoot very large networks with the same size team. BCF also ensures tenant-level isolation on the IP storage network when VM and container instances get added or removed across hosts.

Lastly, BCF also meets all traditional IP storage network requirements – lossless fabric, 10G/40G connectivity, low latency, and traffic service levels via flow-based QoS.

lossless fabric, 10G/40G connectivity, low latency, and traffic service levels via flow-based QoS.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Storage Networks:

Big Cloud Fabric extends the HCI footprint benefits of rapid deployment, scale-out infrastructure and lower costs to the IP storage network layer.

HCI systems provide converged compute and storage environment, leveraging direct-attached storage (DAS) available in servers. Through software innovations, HCI aggregates storage capacity across multiple servers and present them as a logical disk to applications.

Big Cloud Fabric meets several new requirements imposed by HCI.

  1. HCI requires application data to be written multiple times across the server/storage nodes to ensure availability and resiliency, resulting in high east-west traffic. Big Cloud Fabric easily supports this traffic requirement with its high-performance 10G/40G scale-out fabric.
  2. With data written to multiple disks, the control traffic in an HCI cluster is much higher than a traditional general-purpose storage. Big Cloud Fabric delivers network visibility of this control traffic on the storage network by allowing for one-click multicast setup and operations.
  3. HCI solutions enable delivering incremental scaling of capacity and performance as per tenant demand. Big Cloud Fabric provides network automation of switch configurations, and zero-touch network operations and upgrades, thus ensuring that HCI’s rapid deployment and cloud-like operations are not compromised.
  4. Lastly, HCI has managed to lower costs by decoupling server and storage controllers from the nodes. HCI leverages open, industry-standard hardware servers to lower costs. An IP storage network stuck in proprietary box-by-box centric paradigm stands in the way of providing budget relief to business critical HCI projects. Instead Big Cloud Fabric delivers an intelligent, agile and flexible SDN fabric on open switching hardware to extend the HCI-like cost benefits to the IP storage network layer.
  5. Big Cloud Fabric architecture is highly synergistic with HCI. Both separate the data and control plans with a centralized software-defined controller. This makes BCF a natural fit as an IP storage network solution in HCI environments.

    Proof-point: Simplifying VMware Virtual SAN Deployment with Big Cloud Fabric

    BCF has unique integrations for VMware Virtual SAN. Software-defined data center (SDDC) operators can get unique automation and visibility for Virtual SAN – thanks to BCF’s integration with VMware vSphere. In addition, one-click fabric multicast enables Virtual SAN cluster to be deployed in minutes, and is zero-touch Virtual SAN nodes get added or removed.

    Simplifying VMware Virtual SAN Deployment with Big Cloud Fabric

    Contrast this simplicity with the repeat manual steps needed with traditional network as depicted below.

    Visual representation of traditional network

    Virtualization admins can leverage the familiar vCenter GUI to view BCF information, using the BCF GUI plug-in. This consistent telemetry is very handy in troubleshooting environment to rapidly identify issues across network and virtualization domains. Examples include (a) finding connectivity information of a Virtual SAN ESXi host to BCF leaf switch, and (b) troubleshoot connectivity issues between two vSphere VMs across different Virtual SAN hosts, across the network fabric in a few clicks, without hunting in a box-to-box fashion.

    Software-Defined Storage (SDS):

    Big Cloud Fabric is well suited for software-defined storage environments that need storage network automation, high data transfer, easy storage network partitioning and native multi-tenant support for rapid orchestration.

    As data storage explodes across all organizations, IT teams need an easier way to manage storage costs, avoid painful storage migrations across systems, and increase capacity linearly as they grow.

    Software-defined storage is an architectural approach where the storage controller is distributed and spans multiple disks across various storage devices and provides linear addition of capacity on open, affordable hardware.

    Software-defined storage systems are valuable for use-cases that store large data sets such as (a) large video content repositories driven by 24x7 surveillance cameras, (b) storing multiple low-cost copies for video/movie editing, (c) warm, low-cost archival, and (d) managed storage services.

    Open-source Ceph architecture is well-known proof-point of SDS. Ceph deployments have storage clusters across a mix of disk types (SSD, SATA, SAS etc). They make multiple copies of the objects for redundancy, which increases the east-west traffic on the storage network. Also, Ceph typically has two storage networks – one is the front-end application-facing public network and a separate back-end cluster network, where the Ceph-based object management instances communicate with each other to write, access, duplicate and manage the data stored in the objects.

    Open-source Ceph architecture is well-known proof-point of SDS

    Big Cloud Fabric is well suited for Ceph and other software-defined storage. BCF supports both Ceph networks within a single SDN fabric. Leveraging its SDN capability, BCF can automate the relevant network configuration operations of Ceph software instances for scale-out storage capacity. Similar to SDS in its architectural principles, BCF allows for (a) SDN deployments on open industry-standard hardware to keep costs down, (b) high throughput performance via distributed nodes, and (c) automated network operations, as SDS-based instances are provisioned or removed.

    How to Get Started with BCF?

    It’s easy and free to get started with Big Cloud Fabric.

    To try BCF on-line, sign up for our free Big Switch Labs and test drive variety of use cases.

    Big Cloud Fabric Community Edition is free and can be downloaded from All you need is one or two open networking compliant switches validated by Big Switch.