Random Short Take #15

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 15 – it could become a regular thing. Maybe every other week? Fortnightly even.

Random Short Take #14

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 14 – giddy-up!

Big Switch Are Bringing The Cloud To Your DC

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

As part of my attendance at Dell Technologies World 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Tech Field Day Extra sessions. You can view the videos from the Big Switch Networks session here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

The Network Is The Cloud

Cloud isn’t a location, it’s a design principle. And networking needs to evolve with the times. The enterprise is hamstrung by:

  • Complex and slow operations
  • Inadequate visibility
  • Lack of operational consistency

It’s time that on-premises needs is built the same way as the service providers do it.

  • Software-defined;
  • Automated with APIs;
  • Open Hardware; and
  • Integrated Analytics.

APIs are not an afterthought for Big Switch.

A Better DC Network

  • Cloud-first infrastructure – design, build and operate your on-premises network with the same techniques used internally by public cloud operators
  • Cloud-first experience – give your application teams the same “as-a-service” network experience on-premises that they get with the cloud
  • Cloud-first consistency – uses the same tool chain to manage both on-premises and in-cloud networks

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

There are a number of reasons why enterprise IT folks are looking wistfully at service providers and the public cloud infrastructure setups and wishing they could do IT that way too. If you’re a bit old fashioned, you might think that loose and fast isn’t really how you should be doing enterprise IT – something that’s notorious for being slow, expensive, and reliable. But that would be selling the SPs short (and I don’t just say that because I work for a service provider in my day job). What service providers and public cloud folks are very good at is getting maximum value from the infrastructure they have available to them. We don’t necessarily adopt cloud-like approaches to infrastructure to save money, but rather to solve the same problems in the enterprise that are being solved in the public clouds. Gone are the days when the average business will put up with vast sums of cash being poured into enterprise IT shops with little to no apparent value being extracted from said investment. It seems to be no longer enough to say “Company X costs this much money, so that’s what we pay”. For better or worse, the business is both more and less savvy about what IT costs, and what you can do with IT. Sure, you’ll still laugh at the executive challenging the cost of core switches by comparing them to what can be had at the local white goods slinger. But you better be sure you can justify the cost of that badge on the box that runs your network, because there are plenty of folks ready to do it for cheaper. And they’ll mostly do it reliably too.

This is the kind of thing that lends itself perfectly to the likes of Big Switch Networks. You no longer necessarily need to buy badged hardware to run your applications in the fashion that suits you. You can put yourself in a position to get control over how your spend is distributed and not feel like you’re feeling to some mega company’s profit margins without getting return on your investment. It doesn’t always work like that, but the possibility is there. Big Switch have been talking about this kind of choice for some time now, and have been delivering products that make that possibility a reality. They recently announced an OEM agreement with Dell EMC. It mightn’t seem like a big deal, as Dell like to cosy up to all kinds of companies to fill apparent gaps in the portfolio. But they also don’t enter into these types of agreements without having seriously evaluated the other company. If you have a chance to watch the customer testimonial at Tech Field Day Extra, you’ll get a good feel for just what can be accomplished with an on-premises environment that has service provider like scalability, management, and performance challenges. There’s a great tale to be told here. Not every enterprise is working at “legacy” pace, and many are working hard to implement modern infrastructure approaches to solve business problems. You can also see one of their customers talk with my friend Keith about the experience of implementing and managing Big Switch on Dell Open Networking.

Dell Announces Dell Technologies Cloud (Platforms and DCaaS)

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Dell Technologies recently announced their Dell Technologies Cloud Platforms and Dell Technologies DCaaS offerings and I thought I’d try and dig in a little more to the announcements here.

 

DTC DCaaS

[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service (DTC DCaaS) is all about “bringing public cloud simplicity to your DCs”. So what do you get with this? You get:

  • Data residency and regulatory compliance;
  • Control over critical workloads;
  • Proximity of data with cloud resources;
  • Self-service resource provisioning;
  • Fully managed, maintained and supported; and
  • Increased developer velocity.

VMware Cloud on Dell

At its core, DTC DCaaS is built on VMware Cloud Foundation and Dell EMC VxRail. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is “cloud infrastructure installed on-premises in your core and edge data centres and consumed as a cloud service”.

[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

  • Cloud infrastructure delivered as-a-service on-premises
  • Co-engineered and delivered by Dell Technologies; ongoing service fully managed by VMware
  • VMware SDDC including compute, storage and networking
  • Built on VxRail – Dell EMC’s enterprise-grade cloud platform
  • Hybrid cloud control plane to provision and monitor resources
  • Monthly subscription model

How Does It Work?

  • Firstly, you sign into the VMware Cloud service account to create an order. Dell Technologies will then deliver and install your new cloud infrastructure in your core or edge DC location.
  • Next, the system will self-configure and register with VMware Cloud servers, so you can immediately begin provisioning and managing workloads with VMware’s hybrid cloud control plane.

Moving forward the hardware and software is fully managed, just like your public cloud resources.

Speeds And Feeds 

As I understand it there are two configuration options: DC and Edge. The DC configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 42U APC NetShelter rack
  • 4 – 15x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2x S5248FF 25GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1x S3048 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 6X Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • No UPS option

The Edge Location configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 24U APC NetShelter rack
  • 3 – 6x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2X S4128F 10GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1X S3048-ON 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 2x Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • 2x UPS with batteries for 30 min hold-up time for 6X E560F

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

I haven’t explained it very clearly in this article, but there are two parts to the announcement. There’s the DTC Platforms announcement, and the DTC DCaaS announcement. You can read a slightly better explanation here, but the Platforms announcement is VCF on VxRail, and VMware Cloud on AWS. DTC DCaaS, on the other hand, is kit delivered into your DC or Edge site and consumed as a managed service.

There was a fair bit of confusion when I spoke to people at the show last week about what this announcement really meant, both for Dell Technologies and for their customers. At the show last year, Dell was bullish on the future of private cloud / on-premises infrastructure. It seems apparent, though, that this kind of announcement is something of an admission that Dell has customers that are demanding a little more activity when it comes to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions.

Dell’s ace in the hole has been (since the EMC merger) the close access to VMware that they’ve enjoyed via the portfolio of companies. It makes sense that they would have a story to tell when it comes to VMware Cloud Foundation and VMware Cloud on AWS. The box slingers at Dell EMC are happy because they can still sell VxRail appliances for use with the DCaaS offering. I’m interested to see just how many customers take up Dell on their vision of seamless integration between on-premises and public cloud workloads.

The public cloud vendors will tell you that eventually (in 5, 10, 20 years?) every workload will be “cloud native”. I think it’s more likely that we’ll always have some workloads that need to remain on-premises. Not necessarily because they have performance requirements that require that level of application locality, but rather because some organisations will have security requirements that will dictate where these workloads live. I think the shelf life of something like VMConAWS is still more limited than some people will admit, but I can see the need for stuff like this.

My only concern is that the DTC story can be complicated to tell in places. I’ve spent some time this week and last digging in to this offering, and I’m not sure I’ve explained it terribly well at all. I also wonder how the organisations (Dell EMC and VMware) will work together to offer a cohesive offering from a technology and support perspective. Ultimately, these types of solutions are appealing because companies want to focus on their core business, rather than operating as a poorly resourced IT organisation. But there’s no point entering in to these kinds of agreements if the vendor can’t deliver on their vision. “Fully managed services” mean different things to different vendors, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in the market.

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service, delivered as VMware Cloud on Dell EMC with VxRail, is currently is available in beta deployments with limited customer availability planned for the second half of 2019. You can read the solution overview here.

Dell EMC Announces Unity XT And More Cloudy Things

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

 

Dell EMC Unity XT

As part of their storage announcements this week, Dell EMC announced the new Unity XT. Here’s a photo of one from the show floor at Dell Technologies World.

There are two variants of Unity XT, and you can grab the All-Flash data sheet here, and the Hybrid data sheet here. The spec sheet for both flavours is here. There are 8 models in all, and the smallest one in hybrid and all-flash won’t support NVMe (to keep the cost down for smaller customers). I’m told the largest model will scale up to 1500 drives, with Dell EMC revisiting the kind of specs that they had with the VNX 7600 and 8000 range.

From an efficiency perspective, Dell EMC are claiming

  • Up to 5:1 data reduction
  • 85% system efficiency

Wait, what about performance? Dell EMC are telling me the Unity XT delivers up to:

  • 2x More Performance (IOPS)*
  • 75% Lower Latency**
  • 67% Faster performance than competition***

Like all performance claims, there are a few caveats:

  • *100% reads, 100% writes & mixed workload – compared to previous generation
  • ** @ 150K IOPS, 8K block size, 70/30 R/W ratio
  • *** Compared to leading vendor

 

Dell Storage and the Cloud

It’s a multi-cloud world. And Dell EMC have been working to make sure their involved in various cloud things, including:

  • Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (certified with Unity and PowerMax);
  • Cloud Data Services;
  • Cloud Connected Systems; and
  • Cloud Data Insights.

Dell Technologies Cloud Platform

This was a reasonably significant announcement, and I’ll be covering it in a separate article.

 

Cloud Data Services

Dell EMC are also offering a range of storage and protection data services available in the public cloud provider of your choice.

Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services

Dell EMC have announced that Early Access is coming soon for Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services Integrated with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for File.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Ideal for HPC applications, analytics, media and entertainment, life sciences, etc.
  • Backed by enterprise SLAs
  • Pay-as-you-use pricing
  • Proactive monitoring, maintenance, and hardware life- cycle management

They’ve also announced that Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services is now available.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Fast – High-speed, low latency connection to the cloud;
  • Trusted – Durable, persistent storage with up to 6-9’s availability and enterprise grade security; and
  • Flexible – Control your data with multi-cloud agility; Independently scale capacity and compute.

 

DR Services

The cool thing about cloud data services is that you can do cool things with them, such as using VMC on AWS for Automated Disaster Recovery

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

Dell EMC tell me it’s a:

  • Seamlessly integrated VMware environment;
  • Delivering automated DR operations;
  • With enterprise-grade, pay- as-you-go DRaaS;
  • You only pay for compute in the cloud when failover occurs; and
  • This gives you access to lower RPOs and RTOs

It’s a multi-cloud world though, so you can also access multiple cloud providers for Disaster Recovery.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

The benefits of this approach are numerous, including:

  • No secondary DC to manage;
  • Enterprise-grade infrastructure;
  • A Pay-as-you-go model;
  • Only pay for compute in the cloud in the event of a failure; and
  • Lower RPOs.

And it wouldn’t be multi-cloud capable if you couldn’t do other cool stuff like workload migration, analytics and more:

  • Flexible, multi-cloud support;
  • No vendor lock-in with data independent of the cloud;
  • Leverage cloud(s) of choice based on application needs;
  • Reduce risk with centralised, durable storage; and
  • Fast, low cost set up – no additional infrastructure to setup or manage.

Cloud Data Insights

Proactively monitor and manage infrastructure and data with intelligent cloud-based analytics. With CloudIQ you get access to a few neat things, including:

Predictive Modelling

  • Capacity Forecasting
  • Competing Workload Analysis

Accelerated Resolution

  • 3X Faster Insight
  • Performance Anomaly Detection

Broader Support

  • Primary Storage Portfolio
  • VMware
  • Connectrix
  • Isilon and PowerVault*

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

Dell EMC ClarityNow

  • Single pane of glass view of all file and object storage;
  • Accelerated scan and indexing of unstructured data;
  • High-speed search across heterogeneous storage;
  • Detailed reporting with chargeback views; and
  • Data mobility for self-service archive in cloud.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

The Unity XT is an evolution of the Unity line, rather than a revolutionary array. Dell EMC are doing all the things you’d expect them to do with their midrange line, including improving performance and adding support for NVMe on most of the models. I imagine people still have questions about the breadth of Dell EMC’s storage portfolio, with a range of products available from Unity to SC to XtremIO to PowerMax. There’s also Isilon dominating the file options, and ECS delivering some interesting object capabilities. It’s clear there’s still some room for consolidation, but I think it’s smart that Dell EMC have stuck with the “portfolio company” line. Instead of having too many options, the idea is that they can see you exactly what you want. They are, after all, in the business of making money. And if people want to keep buying Compellent, then Dell EMC are going to keep selling it to them. At least in the near term.

The Cloud Data Services announcements are also interesting. I’ve seen plenty of those cloud-native folks question why you’d want something like Isilon running on GCP. But those people aren’t really the ones who’l’ benefit from these types of solutions. Rather, it’s the enterprise who’ve built up particular workloads that rely on file, but still need to shift some of those workloads to a public cloud provider. Remember, not every tech company goes out and builds products without having a user base that has asked for said products. Dell EMC are very much in the camp of not doing things without having a quantifiable appetite from the customer base.

I’m glad I don’t work in a job where I have to manage lots of storage devices anymore. Because I’m not so sure I’d like to do it on my mobile phone. But the ability to view the health of these devices via an app is appealing. Sure, you’re not going to necessarily want to use element managers on your phone, but whne you need to know that status of something without diving too deep, something like CloudIQ becomes super useful. As does the ability to see all of your devices in one place with ClarityNow.

I didn’t hear anything revolutionary in Dell EMC’s storage announcements this year, but they continue to stay the course, and they’re setting the scene for bigger things to come. For another perspective, you can read Max’s thoughts on the storage announcements here. I’m looking forward to digging in to what Dell Technologies Cloud really means, and hope to have something out on that in the next week or so.

Axellio Announces Azure Stack HCI Support

Microsoft recently announced their Azure Stack HCI program, and I had the opportunity to speak to the team from Axellio (including Bill Miller, Barry Martin, and Kara Smith) about their support for it.

 

Azure Stack Versus Azure Stack HCI

So what’s the difference between Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI? You can think of Azure Stack as an extension of Azure – designed for cloud-native applications. The Azure Stack HCI is more for your traditional VM-based applications – the kind of ones that haven’t been refactored (or can’t be) for public cloud.

[image courtesy of Microsoft]

The Azure Stack HCI program has fifteen vendor partners on launch day, of which Axellio is one.

 

Axellio’s Take

Miller describes the Axellio solution as “[n]ot your father’s HCI infrastructure”, and Axellio tell me it “has developed the new FabricXpress All-NVMe HCI edge-computing platform built from the ground up for high-performance computing and fast storage for intense workload environments. It delivers 72 NVMe SSDS per server, and packs 2 servers into one 2U chassis”. Cluster sizes start at 4 nodes and run up to 16. Note that the form factor measurement in the table below includes any required switching for the solution. You can grab the data sheet from here.

[image courtesy of Axellio]

It uses the same Hyper-V based software-defined compute, storage and networking as Azure Stack and integrates on-premises workloads with Microsoft hybrid data services including Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup, Cloud Witness and Azure Monitor.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

When Microsoft first announced plans for a public cloud presence, some pundits suggested they didn’t have the chops to really make it. It seems that Microsoft has managed to perform well in that space despite what some of the analysts were saying. What Microsoft has had working in its favour is that it understands the enterprise pretty well, and has made a good push to tap that market and help get the traditionally slower moving organisations to look seriously at public cloud.

Azure Stack HCI fits nicely in between Azure and Azure Stack, giving enterprises the opportunity to host workloads that they want to keep in VMs hosted on a platform that integrates well with public cloud services that they may also wish to leverage. Despite what we want to think, not every enterprise application can be easily refactored to work in a cloud-native fashion. Nor is every enterprise ready to commit that level of investment into doing that with those applications, preferring instead to host the applications for a few more years before introducing replacement application architectures.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Axellio’s capabilities when it comes to edge compute and storage solutions. In speaking to the Axellio team, what stands out to me is that they really seem to understand how to put forward a performance-oriented solution that can leverage the best pieces of the Microsoft stack to deliver an on-premises hosting capability that ticks a lot of boxes. The ability to move workloads (in a staged fashion) so easily between public and private infrastructure should also have a great deal of appeal for enterprises that have traditionally struggled with workload mobility.

Enterprise operations can be a pain in the backside at the best of times. Throw in the requirement to host some workloads in public cloud environments like Azure, and your operations staff might be a little grumpy. Fans of HCI have long stated that the management of the platform, and the convergence of compute and storage, helps significantly in easing the pain of infrastructure operations. If you then take that management platform and integrate it successfully with you public cloud platform, you’re going to have a lot of fans. This isn’t Axellio’s only solution, but I think it does fit in well with their ability to deliver performance solutions in both the core and edge.

Thomas Maurer wrote up a handy article covering some of the differences between Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI. The official Microsoft blog post on Azure Stack HCI is here. You can read the Axellio press release here.

Random Short Take #11

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe. Happy New Year too. I hope everyone’s feeling fresh and ready to tackle 2019.

  • I’m catching up with the good folks from Scale Computing in the next little while, but in the meantime, here’s what they got up to last year.
  • I’m a fan of the fruit company nowadays, but if I had to build a PC, this would be it (hat tip to Stephen Foskett for the link).
  • QNAP announced the TR-004 over the weekend and I had one delivered on Tuesday. It’s unusual that I have cutting edge consumer hardware in my house, so I’ll be interested to see how it goes.
  • It’s not too late to register for Cohesity’s upcoming Helios webinar. I’m looking forward to running through some demos with Jon Hildebrand and talking about how Helios helps me manage my Cohesity environment on a daily basis.
  • Chris Evans has published NVMe in the Data Centre 2.0 and I recommend checking it out.
  • I went through a basketball card phase in my teens. This article sums up my somewhat confused feelings about the card market (or lack thereof).
  • Elastifile Cloud File System is now available on the AWS Marketplace – you can read more about that here.
  • WekaIO have posted some impressive numbers over at spec.org if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Applications are still open for vExpert 2019. If you haven’t already applied, I recommend it. The program is invaluable in terms of vendor and community engagement.

 

 

Random Short Take #10

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe. This will be the last one for this year. I hope you and yours have a safe and merry Christmas / holiday break.

  • Scale Computing have finally entered the Aussie market in partnership with Amnesium. You can read more about that here
  • Alastair is back in the classroom, teaching folks about AWS. He published a bunch of very useful notes from a recent class here.
  • The folks at Backblaze are running a “Refer-A-Friend” promotion. If you’re looking to become a new Backblaze customer and sign up with my referral code, you’ll get some free time on your account. And I will too! Hooray! I’ve waxed lyrical about Backblaze before, and I recommend it. The offer runs out on January 6th 2019, so get a move on.
  • Howard did a nice article on VVols that I recommend checking out.
  • GDPR has been a challenge (within and outside the EU), but I enjoyed Mark Browne‘s take on Cohesity’s GDPR compliance.
  • I’m quite a fan of the Netflix Tech Blog, and this article on the Netflix Media Database was a ripper.
  • From time to time I like to poke fun at my friends in the US for what seems like an excessive amount of shenanigans happening in that country, but there’s plenty of boneheaded stuff happening in Australia too. Read Preston’s article on the recently passed anti-encryption laws to get a feel for the heady heights of stupidity that we’ve been able to reach recently.

 

Elastifile Announces Cloud File Service

Elastifile recently announced a partnership with Google to deliver a fully-managed file service delivered via the Google Cloud Platform. I had the opportunity to speak with Jerome McFarland and Dr Allon Cohen about the announcement and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

 

What Is It?

Elastifile Cloud File Service delivers a self-service SaaS experience, providing the ability to consume scalable file storage that’s deeply integrated with Google infrastructure. You could think of it as similar to Amazon’s EFS.

[image courtesy of Elastifile]

 

Benefits

Easy to Use

Why would you want to use this service? It:

  • Eliminates manual infrastructure management;
  • Provisions turnkey file storage capacity in minutes; and
  • Can be delivered in any zone, and any region.

 

Elastic

It’s also cloudy in a lot of the right ways you want things to be cloudy, including:

  • Pay-as-you-go, consumption-based pricing;
  • Flexible pricing tiers to match workflow requirements; and
  • The ability to start small and scale out or in as needed and on-demand.

 

Google Native

One of the real benefits of this kind of solution though, is the deep integration with Google’s Cloud Platform.

  • The UI, deployment, monitoring, and billing are fully integrated;
  • You get a single bill from Google; and
  • The solution has been co-engineered to be GCP-native.

[image courtesy of Elastifile]

 

What About Cloud Filestore?

With Google’s recently announced Cloud Filestore, you get:

  • A single storage tier selection, being Standard or SSD;
  • It’s available in-cloud only; and
  • Grow capacity or performance up to a tier capacity.

With Elastifile’s Cloud File Service, you get access to the following features:

  • Aggregates performance & capacity of many VMs
  • Elastically scale-out or -in; on-demand
  • Multiple service tiers for cost flexibility
  • Hybrid cloud, multi-zone / region and cross-cloud support

You can also use ClearTier to perform tiering between file and object without any application modification.

 

Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Elastifile for a little while now, and I thought their 3.0 release had a fair bit going for it. As you can see from the list of features above, Elastifile are really quite good at leveraging all of the cool things about cloud – it’s software only (someone else’s infrastructure), reasonably priced, flexible, and scalable. It’s a nice change from some vendors who have focussed on being in the cloud without necessarily delivering the flexibility that cloud solutions have promised for so long. Coupled with a robust managed service and some preferential treatment from Google and you’ve got a compelling solution.

Not everyone will want or need a managed service to go with their file storage requirements, but if you’re an existing GCP and / or Elastifile customer, this will make some sense from a technical assurance perspective. The ability to take advantage of features such as ClearTier, combined with the simplicity of keeping it all under the Google umbrella, has a lot of appeal. Elastifile are in the box seat now as far as these kinds of offerings are concerned, and I’m keen to see how the market responds to the solution. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, the Early Access Program opens December 11th with general availability in Q1 2019. In the meantime, if you’d like to try out ECFS on GCP – you can sign up here.

Big Switch Announces AWS Public Cloud Monitoring

Big Switch Networks recently announced Big Mon for AWS. I had the opportunity to speak with Prashant Gandhi (Chief Product Officer) about the announcement and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

The Announcement

Big Switch describe Big Monitoring Fabric Public Cloud (it’s real product name) as “a seamless deep packet monitoring solution that enables workload monitoring within customer specified Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs). All components of the solution are virtual, with elastic scale-out capability based on traffic volumes.”

[image courtesy of Big Switch]

There are some real benefits to be had, including:

  • Complete AWS Visibility;
  • Multi-VPC support;
  • Elastic scaling; and
  • Consistent with the On-Prem offering.

Capabilities

  • Centralised packet and flow-based monitoring of all VPCs of a user account
  • Visibility-related traffic is kept local for security purposes and cost savings
  • Monitoring and security tools are centralised and tagged within the dedicated VPC for ease of configuration
  • Role-based access control enables multiple teams to operate Big Mon 
  • Supports centralised AWS VPC tool farm to reduce monitoring cost
  • Integrated with Big Switch’s Multi-Cloud Director for centralised hybrid cloud management

Thoughts and Further Reading

It might seem a little odd that I’m covering news from a network platform vendor on this blog, given the heavy focus I’ve had over the years on storage and virtualisation technologies. But the world is changing. I work for a Telco now and cloud is dominating every infrastructure and technology conversation I’m having. Whether it’s private or public or hybrid, cloud is everywhere, and networks are a bit part of that cloud conversation (much as it has been in the data centre), as is visibility into those networks. 

Big Switch have been around for under 10 years, but they’ve already made some decent headway with their switching platform and east-west monitoring tools. They understand cloud networking, and particularly the challenges facing organisations leveraging complicated cloud networking topologies. 

I’m the first guy to admit that my network chops aren’t as sharp as they could be (if you watched me setup some Google WiFi devices over the weekend, you’d understand). But I also appreciate that visibility is key to having control over what can sometimes be an overly elastic / dynamic infrastructure. It’s been hard to see traffic between availability zones, between instances, and contained in VPNs. I also like that they’ve focussed on a consistent experience between the on-premises offering and the public cloud offering. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Big Switch Networks, I also recommend checking out their labs.