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Data Center

Fulfilling Multidimensional Agility

by asardell on ‎12-06-2016 05:00 AM (13,398 Views)

In Nabil Bukhari's blog today, he outlined our vision for multidimensional agility.  I'll provide a closer look at how we’re fulfilling this vision by first talking about the layers we’re describing in the data center, as well as the requirements for those layers and what Brocade has been doing to fulfill those requirements. 


People express what they mean by "layer" in different ways: some just talk about hardware and software, and others talk about multiple software layers but omit the hardware. The following diagram illustrates the approach we are taking for this discussion.


all layers of the modern data center

Figure 1: Layers of Infrastructure and Automation



Even within the infrastructure, we can identify four distinct layers. From bottom to top of the stack, we can identify silicon, protocols, overlays in the network virtualization layer, and then the visibility and programmatic interfaces that allow us to automate with confidence.


Above this, we have software layers that we describe in terms of automation. We have an automation platform of course, in the Brocade Workflow Composer (BWC), powered by StackStorm technology. With BWC, we can automate workflows across domains, and can optionally interface with the inner workings of orchestration software (which may include OpenStack, Docker Containers, VMware VRealize, and others).  


How Brocade Fulfills the Requirements of these Layers


The right side of Figure 1 shows how we are fulfilling the requirements of these layers. In May of 2016, we launched BWC to enable cross-domain IT automation. In our September announcement, we introduced the SLX 9850 and--for unparalleled visibility--the SLX Insight Architecture. These products provided new advancements for agility, visibility, and scale in the modern data center.


Today, we are announcing three more platforms in the SLX family:


  • SLX 9140: A Programmable Leaf Switch
  • SLX 9240: A Programmable Spine Switch
  • SLX 9540: A Border Leaf Switch


These all leverage the same SLX-OS and SLX Insight Architecture visibility advantages of the SLX 9850.  Furthermore, the SLX 9140 and 9240 add even more features leveraging the Cavium XPliant packet processor which brings programmability down to the ASIC. Thus, customers are no longer restricted by the typical silicon lifecycle since major changes can be brought to the system without a switch replace.   


Visibility Services


We are also introducing Visibility Services in these new SLX 9140 and SLX 9120 spine and leaf switches, addressing the programmability and visibility needs most relevant in the leaf and spine. These services (Figure 2) help simplify network operations with embedded visibility from physical network to application workload.

Visbility Services in SLX 9140 spine and leaf switches

Figure 2: Visibility Services



These actions (such as mirror, count and drop) are dynamic and can be configured by adding a workflow that reacts to specific events and criteria. By providing workload-level context to network administrators, the appropriate actions and prioritization can be taken for selected workloads (for example, an administrator would usually be more concerned about a revenue-generating application than a storage backup).  


Automation Suites    


To allow customers to get started from wherever they are today, we developed the following automation suites for the Brocade Workflow Composer:


  • Network Essentials: common networking tasks—the basic building blocks
  • Data Center Fabric: Provisoning, validating, and troubleshooting L2/L3 fabric architectures.
  • IXP: provisioning, validating, and troubleshooting tasks commonly encountered by Internet Exchange Point providers.


Each automation suite consists of a collection of turnkey (yet customizable) workflows, services, sensors, actions, rules, documentation, and in some cases a customized user interface. They are assembled, built, and tested with Brocade network infrastructure.    


Conclusion: Our Unique Value Proposition


With this announcement, Brocade gives you visibility all the way up from the programmable hardware (including the ASIC) to the orchestration layer, and automation all the way back down to the hardware. We make it very simple to get started with automation and visibility.  You can use our solutions (such as the Visibility Services and the automation suites very effectively together, or you can use them in conjunction with existing software in your IT portfolio.


You can find more information in the collateral referenced in this blog, or by contacting your Brocade sales representative.


Related Links

For more information, see the following pages: