Just over a $1 trillion will be spent on networking hardware and software over the next 5 years, and both vendors – with the possible exception of Cisco – and customers are hoping that Software Defined Networking (SDN) and BFF Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) will capture a growing piece of that money. Big Switch Networks, which started down the SDN path in late 2009, and was working with its originator, Stanford University, 6 months before it opened its doors, is announcing Big Cloud Fabric, which is available in beta, and will be GA later this quarter, as well as Big Tap 4.0, and is expanding its partner ecosystem. And if that isn’t enough, Co-founder and President Kyle Forster told IT Trends & Analysis that his company will be formally accepted into the Open Compute Project in Q3.
Forecasts for SDN are all over the map, but a recent Infonetics Research survey of the major service providers that account for 51% of worldwide telecom capex, 29% are currently implementing SDNs, and 52% plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2014, and nearly every operator plans to deploy SDN (97%) or NFV (93%) in some aspect of their network at some point.
Yesterday Research and Markets reported that the global SDN market is estimated to grow from $290 million in 2014 to $3.67 billion by 2019, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 66.1%. Last week SNS Research announced that NFV and SDN investments on the Radio Access Network (RAN) segment alone will account for over $5 billion by 2020.
So it’s no surprise that Big Switch, along with virtually every other hardware, software, networking and wannabe-superstar-startup is jumping on the SDN bandwagon. The company says that building on the success of its Big Tap monitoring fabric, Big Cloud Fabric – ‘the industry’s first and only data center switching fabric that combines the operational advantages of SDN software with the economics of bare metal switch hardware’ – is the next logical step for network architects embracing hyperscale design.
Making the leap to new hyperscale SDN solutions can be challenging for organizations with legacy infrastructure, said Brian Marshall, analyst, ISI Group, in a prepared statement. “However,. Big Tap offers a simple, high-value entry point for customers to warm up to SDN and get comfortable. Now Big Cloud Fabric at the core can help mitigate risk for customers and enable a seamless transition to SDN.”
Forster, who spent many years at Microsoft and Cisco prior to starting Big Switch, said his company has been inspired by hyper-scale data centers – i.e. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon – that have outpaced the vendors for the last 5 years. However, while there is great opportunity to fix the broken networking space, SDN and NFV pose huge challenges to Cisco and other proprietary networking vendors, he said.
Big Switch sees its mission as bringing the hyperscale design to data centers worldwide, enabling companies to achieve improved operational efficiency. Hyperscale networking focuses on simplicity and cost savings, and isn’t simply a vision for the future – it is available today, it said.
Forster sees the migration to software-defined networking as the typical three-year enterprise adoption curve. First discussion, then a pilot, and only in the third year does the budget for a significant development come through.
Big Switch is looking for customers who want to run some part of their data center with SDN, a “customer that has Google-envy”, perhaps to run their cloud or a VDI implementation. Ideally, they will be the early adopters, he said.
“We’re a small company… since 2014 entirely focused on early adopters. Even early 2015 we will be focused on early adopters. It’s an $8 billion market.”
The Fiddly Bits (& Bytes)
Like Big Tap, Big Cloud Fabric leverages the company’s Switch Light Operating System on physical leaf and spine bare metal switch hardware and supports the latest Trident II silicon from Broadcom. It is designed for 10G and 40G scale and resiliency, featuring headless mode high availability, zero-touch provisioning, L2/3 forwarding options, application-centric policy and service chaining. Management is available via OpenStack, Cloudstack, REST, CLI, or GUI.
According to Big Switch, a 16-rack cloud pod bare-metal SDN data center switching fabric in an application/tenant-centric configuration, Big Cloud Fabric will provide:
-30:1 reduction of management consoles;
-network/security/audit workflow integration, starting with OpenStack; and,
-up to 75% reduction in CapEx.
It is available in two versions:
-P-Clos Edition: a physical leaf and spine fabric targeting a broad range of data center environments, including KVM/OVS, ESX, Hyper-V, Bare Metal, or a mix; and,
-Unified P+V Clos Edition: a physical + virtual fabric where leaf, spine and vSwitches are controlled by the Big Cloud Fabric Controller.
Due out this quarter, Big Tap 4.0 expands the addressable market with a new use case – tapping distributed, remote data centers – with an increasingly rich filtering feature set including deeper packet matching, applicable for tunneled packets such as those found in mobile protocols and VXLAN. It also provides additional compatible hardware choices, including Dell open networking hardware as well as Accton/Edge-Core based Trident II switches.
The partner ecosystem is growing with new and/or expanded relationships with companies involved in L4-L7 services, orchestration, big data, VDI, network/security monitoring, and application performance management. These include: A10 Networks, Accton Technology, Blue Coat, BlueData, Broadcom, Canonical, Check Point, Citrix, Dell, Edge-Core, FireEye, Fortinet, Garland Technology, Hillstone Networks, Hortonworks, Infoblox, In-Q-Tel, iwNetworks, Microsoft, Mirantis, Nexenta, Quanta Computer, Red Hat, Riverbed, and Telchemy.