Big Switch Adds Hooks Into HCI & SAN


By: Michael Vizard

Increased adoption of both software-defined storage (SDS) systems and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appliances is creating a need for IT organizations to implement a software-defined overlay to network these platforms together as they proliferate across the datacenter. To address that requirement, Big Switch Networks today announced it has extended the reach of Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) to add support for several SDS and HCI appliances, including Nutanix, VMware vSAN, Dell EMC ScaleIO, and Red Hat Ceph.

Some of the key elements of the strategy include increased integration and automation of Big Switch networking with storage and HCI appliances, including, for example, the autodiscovery of appliances that can quickly provision them on a virtualized network. Big Switch announced some customers adopting the strategy, including Incheon Smart-city and Tianjian Broadcast and TV Network in Tianjian, Chian.

Because all these platforms are built to one degree or another on scale-out architectures, it’s only a matter of time before enterprise IT organizations that adopt these platforms need a software-defined network (SDN), says Gregg Holtzrichter, chief marketing officer for Big Switch Networks.

In the case of HCI appliances, for example, Holtzrichter says once an IT organization moves past five nodes the need for a new approach to networking becomes more acute. The BCF can scale out to provide high-performance 10G/25G/40G/100G network fabric, so IT organizations can now automate the process of provisioning network resources for both virtual machines and containers running on HCI appliances, says Holtzrichter.

Without an SDN in place it’s not possible to dynamically scale deployments of SDS or HCI appliances because each switch on the network would need to be manually programmed via a traditional command line interface (CLI), says Holtzrichter.

“It can now all be integrated into the workflow of the datacenter,” says Holtzrichter.

The addition on BCF support for these platforms is also significant because for the first time it takes BCF beyond the realm of an OpenStack environment.

Adoption of HCI appliances is transforming how datacenters are managed by unifying compute and storage. In fact, most new workloads in the datacenter are being deployed on HCI appliances rather than traditional rack-based systems. Most legacy applications will require access to external storage for years to come. But because HCI appliances significantly lower both the cost of acquiring and managing IT infrastructure in the datacenter, adoption of these platforms in the last year has accelerated considerably.

A recent report from International Data Corp. (IDC) notes the HCI segment grew 68 percent year-over-year in the third quarter for 2017, surpassing $1 billion in sales for the first time.

In fact, it may very well turn out that HCI appliances are indeed the catalyst for accelerating the long-anticipated adoption of SDNs in the datacenter.