Pluribus Beefs up NetVisor for Kubernetes, 400G


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Pluribus Networks, a longtime pioneer of open networking and software-defined networking (SDN), has upgraded its innovative Netvisor ONE network operating system (NOS) with important features for supporting applications visibility and managing high-bandwidth cloud applications.

New additions to the 7th-generation Netvisor NOS include FlowTracker, KubeTracker, and Virtualized Network Packet Broker, all of which add packet-level visibility into the NOS – at wire speed. Not only does this add applications awareness to the network, but Pluribus says it will also eliminate additional costs such as add-on packet brokers and TAPs.

The upgrade also targets the growing thirst for bandwidth. “East-West” traffic in datacenters can demand large bandwidth between servers in public and private clouds and datacenters. To adapt to increasing needs for speed, Pluribus is adding support of high-performance 400- Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches from its partner, Dell Technologies, using the Dell PowerSwitch Z9432F-ON.

Here’s how Pluribus CEO Kumar Srikanta describes the upgrade:

“With the dramatic rise in cloud native workloads, pervasive network visibility has become critical to delivering best-in-class customer experiences. Netvisor ONE release 7 brings the next level of visibility to cloud networks, without the expense of external monitoring hardware. NetOps teams finally have the tools they need to dramatically improve application availability, speed troubleshooting and hold confident conversations with their DevOps counterparts."

Open Networking Is Here to Stay

This important release shows you how much open networking has progressed. Because of the flexibility and lower cost of ownership offered by open solutions, which disaggregate the NOS from the hardware, Futuriom has seen open networking recently gaining momentum in certain markets. This includes the mid-market enterprise, where organizations need a solid and economic solution for private datacenters. Another important market is edge locations, where open networking will be used increasingly to supply flexible networking solutions, including enterprise and service provider deployments.

Because SDN fabrics are based on software and a more modern distributed architecture, they can be more quickly updated to adapt to cloud applications. In addition, they also have the added benefit of disaggregation, giving customers the choice of which hardware to use, potentially reducing cost.

Pluribus’ approach is unique in that all of the functionality is embedded in the NOS, without the need of a software “controller,” which is common in some other SDN approaches, such as Cisco’s Applications Centric Infrastructure (ACI). The challenge in controller environments is that the controller adds risk as a single point of failure, and it can also add complexity and cost. Pluribus delivers a fully distributed NOS that carries all of the control and management features on each device.

Modernizing for the Cloud

The Pluribus Netvisor upgrade shows how SDN solutions are more adaptable to cloud markets. For example, KubeTracker is an interesting feature, targeting the growing use of Kubernetes cloud workload management. Kubernetes, which is based on microservices, has taken off as a popular way to build applications that can run workloads across cloud resources. KubeTracker integrates intelligence about what is going on with Kubernetes workloads in the cloud, providing NetOps teams with full visibility into East-West traffic flows between containers and enabling them to more quickly troubleshoot availability issues.

Pluribus has a great blog explaining how this works.

Some other details on the Netvisor 7 upgrade:

  • FlowTracker provides integrated wire-speed application-level network flow telemetry for every flow type that can traverse the Adaptive Cloud Fabric, including TCP, UDP, ICMP, and infrastructure services (DNS, DHCP, NTP). FlowTracker can also take advantage of enhanced network telemetry using Broadcom’s Trident3 and Trident4 programmable Ethernet switch chips. Pluribus Networks’ optional UNUM Insight Analytics software can be paired with FlowTracker to provide up to 30 days of stored flow metadata.
  • Pluribus Virtualized Packet Broker Service runs at wire speed, as a service, across the same Adaptive Cloud Fabric that carries production cloud datacenter traffic. The Virtualized Packet Broker is software-defined and can be instantly deployed to aggregate, filter, and replicate any flow from anywhere in the network fabric and steer it to one or multiple monitoring and security tools. Pluribus points out that this fabric service is cost-efficient, as NetOps and SecOps teams are no longer required to build expensive overlay TAP and packet broker networks.
  • Netvisor ONE OS for Dell EMC PowerSwitch Z9432F-ON. This new software and hardware combination delivers compact Z9432F-ON hardware providing 32 ports of 400GbE in QSFP56-DD form factor or 128 ports of 100GbE and also supports 10/25/50GbE port speeds in a 1RU design. Netvisor ONE OS is tested and certified to run on this platform and can be ordered directly through Dell.

Altogether, this important upgrade reflects a new level of sophistication in the SDN market. Pluribus has adapted its networking products for DevOps and NetOps crews to monitor cloud workloads.