Big Switch Networks Inc. is rightsizing SDN for enterprises. With its release of Big Cloud Fabric 2.5, the vendor is packaging a hyper-scale networking approach in software that makes SDN more accessible for enterprises.
The latest release of Big Switch's SDN fabric is built on bare-metal switches, providing an alternative to mainstream switching vendors like Cisco, Juniper Networks and Arista Networks. Even though Big Switch is using inexpensive white-label hardware, customers will still have insight into the gear, as well as centralized provisioning, monitoring and troubleshooting, said Andrew Lerner, research director at Gartner Research.
"Big Switch has taken SDN principles and applied it to their switching fabric to deliver a low-cost -- but programmable -- fabric," he said.
Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) 2.5 can now be run on Dell Open Networking switches, including Dell's 40G S6000ON switch, with support for Dell's 10G S4000ON switch coming later this year, said Gregg Holzrichter, vice president and chief marketing officer for Big Switch. As part of the new partnership, Dell will resell both BCF 2.5 and Big Switch's Big Tap network monitoring application on its bare-metal switches.
By eliminating the need to purchase branded switches, capital expenses can be greatly reduced for enterprises. But not many businesses are ready to fully embrace a bare-metal, SDN approach out of fear that they won't have the vendor support they need.
While Dell also works with Cumulus Networks in a similar fashion, the partnership between Big Switch and Dell is unique because Big Switch has two different offerings that use SDN on the backend -- BCF and Big Tap -- that can now run on Dell switches. Rather than going it alone with bare-metal switches, the partnership gives customers the flexibility associated with SDN for two different use cases, with less risk because Dell is a known and trusted provider, Gartner’s Lerner said.
"You don't have to be a Google to get the benefits of bare-metal switching and controller-based SDN," Big Switch's Holzrichter said.
New analytics, hypervisor support
BCF 2.5 includes Fabric Analytics, a new feature that provides customers with real-time analytics and data insight. Fabric Analytics processes aggregated logs and statistics to uncover trends and events, like configuration changes. It also offers predefined filtering and failure detection so network administrators can quickly troubleshoot network issues throughout the fabric.
Big Switch's updated fabric now supports multiple hypervisor environments, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft HyperV, KVM and Citrix XenServer. The fabric allows both physical and virtual servers to be attached for more workload flexibility.
BCF 2.5 expands cloud orchestration choice through support of CloudStack and Citrix's CloudPlatform, Big Switch said. Previous versions of the software only supported OpenStack for Red Hat and Mirantis distributions.
The vendor is also announcing its Big Switch Networking (BSN) labs, an online portal for enterprises who want to give SDN a test run without purchasing physical hardware. Products available in the lab environment will include BCF and Big Tap Monitoring Fabric, Holzrichter said.
Understanding bare-metal switches
Dell offers bare-metal switches
Big Switch SDN powered by Dell bare-metal switches