Pluribus Networks Focuses on the Edge


By: Michael Vizard

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2019 -- Building out new network infrastructure to adapt to the speed and flexibility of mobile applications and services was a big theme here this week. This trend is likely to boost software-defined network (SDN) players that can help extend the data center out to the edge, and Pluribus Networks is one of those companies zeroing in on the opportunity.

Yesterday, Pluribus announced that version 5.0 of the Netvisor ONE OS has been optimized for edge computing.The latest version of Netvisor ONE OS doubles the number of containerized virtual router instances per switch to provide support for up to 2,000 virtual routing and forwarding instances (VRFs) per network slice.

Based on free FRR vRouter software, the Netvisor ONE OS provides a more efficient approach to managing network slices that will be made available to applications at the network edge, says Mike Capuano, chief marketing officer for Pluribus Networks.

Even prior to the commercial availability of 5G wireless networking, there has already been a significant rise in the number of applications being deployed at the network edge, says Capuano.

“We’re seeing a definite rise in edge computing,” says Capuano. “5G will be an accelerant on top of that.”

Density on the Edge

The biggest networking issue that organizations will encounter as they move applications to the edge will be density. Multiple applications will all be trying to access a common set of physical networking resources that will need to be made available as slices of shared network. To address that issue, Pluribus Networks has built its network operating system using FRR vRouter software that it deploys as a container. That approach makes it feasible to deploy a much larger number of virtual routers through which Pluribus Networks provides access to the underlying physical network.

That capability is further enhanced by a Pluribus approach to SDN that eschews the need for controllers. Pluribus relies on a control plane built into a network fabric that it embeds in a distribution of Linux is developed. The ultimate goal is to allow organizations to deploy a combination of switches at the network edge without having to be concerned about becoming locked into proprietary hardware.

Infrastructure for IoT

Thanks to the rise of first the Internet of Things (IoT) and eventually emerging applications such as augmented and virtual reality applications, the number of applications deployed at the network edge is about to exponentially increase. But none of those advances are going to be practical until some way of sharing network bandwidth across those applications is found. It’s simply not practical or even economically feasible for each edge application to have access to dedicated network bandwidth. That requirement in fact may drive organizations to embrace SDNs at the network edge long before they do inside the data center.

Regardless of whether an organization deployed SDNs at the edge or the data center first, Pluribus Networks is betting those network fabrics will eventually need to become unified. Obviously, Pluribus Networks is not the only networking vendor with a similar vision. But because of its agnostic approach to hardware, Pluribus's path to achieving that goal may turn out to have the least amount of inherent resistance.