Bob Noel

Author Archives: Bob Noel

Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference

I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Gartner Data Center Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas December 7th – 10th.  The sessions were very informative, providing insight into both high-level trends and tactical topics, including bimodal IT, cloud (both public and private) and converged/ hyperconverged infrastructure. I leveraged Twitter at the conference as a means of taking, and sharing, copious notes (@RobertNoel3). Here’s a look at the conference’s main themes:

Bimodal IT:

Bimodal IT is a topic that Gartner has been discussing at length in recent years. The concept of bimodal IT is that organizations need to behave in two modes simultaneously (mode1 and mode 2). According to Ray Paquet, Managing VP at Gartner, mode 1 is predictable where orders are taken from customers of IT and delivered upon.  This is the process of “keeping the lights on” and supporting legacy tools and processes. Mode 2 is exploratory where new tools and processes are considered hand-in-hand with customers of IT.  Mode 2 is all about moving fast and taking risks as a means to support the agility required for the next generation of IT. As a metaphor, Paquet described mode 1 Continue reading

Plexxi Unveils A New Cloud Builder Software Suite and New Switch 3 (100GbE) Hardware Platform: Simply a Better Solution for Cloud Builders

We said that the next era of IT would shake things up, and it is. And so is Plexxi.

Today, Plexxi announced two new products that combine to deliver cloud builders unprecedented capabilities to bring public cloud flexibility and efficiency to the private cloud through a focus on agility, ease-of-use, security, scale and cost-effectiveness. The first product, Plexxi 2.2 Software Suite for cloud builders, is available immediately and includes the Plexxi Network OS, the Plexxi Control application-defined fabric controller, and Plexxi Connect workflow orchestration and automation tool set. The second product, the Plexxi Switch 3 (available in January) is a powerful next-generation switch capable of delivering 10/25/40/50/100 GbE connectivity. Together, these new products expand Plexxi’s go-to-market opportunities in content distribution, high frequency trading, enterprise and government market segments.

The cloud enables rapid scaling; both up and down, of compute and storage capacity and facilitates speedy introduction of new services and applications. Early adopters have leveraged public cloud to achieve increased agility and scalability. In times when internal IT teams are challenged to respond quickly to requests, business department heads often turn to public cloud providers to implement new services quickly. This offers competitive advantage from a time-to-market perspective. It Continue reading

5 New Networking Requirements Driven By Internet of Things and Big Data

The Internet of Things is leading to an explosion in the data available to make faster and better-informed business decisions. The key to exploiting this data for business benefit is accessing it on demand and rapidly analyzing it to deliver value. This requires massive volumes of data be moved across the infrastructure, from distributed locations of rest, to locations of analysis. Many networks, however, are fragile, outdated and unprepared for that level of stress. This means it’s time for the network to undergo its own transformation to meet these data transport needs.

As data is created in greater amounts – and inevitably transferred between resources – the network must become increasingly powerful, flexible and agile in order to keep up with application demands.

Where can networks improve? What do they need that they don’t have now? We’ve outlined five different characteristics below.

Agility. Data and application agility is meaningless if the network cannot keep pace. And keeping pace means removing complexity, simplifying operations and embracing automation to provide a dynamic and responsive infrastructure

Scalability. In a dynamic data and application environment where data volumes are exploding, it’s about more than just scaling up. The challenge with scalability now is really Continue reading

Industry Influencers: Application-aware Networking

Network Insight Blogger and industry guru, Matt Conran, featured Plexxi in his October 6 post Application-aware Networking-Plexxi Networks. He believes, “Mobility and dynamic bandwidth provisioning force us to rethink how we design networks.” We agree.

Conran defines application-aware networking as the idea that application visibility combined with network dynamism will create an environment where the network can react to the changing behavior of application mobility and bandwidth allocation requirements. With that in mind, he took a comprehensive look at what we’ve been doing to “reverse the traditional design process and let the application dictate what kind of network it wants.”

Conran states that, “Networks should be designed around conversions but when you design a network it is usually designed around reachability. A conversational view measures network resources in a different way, such as application SLA and end-to-end performance. The focus is not just uptime. We need a mechanism to describe applications in an abstract way and design the network around conversations. The Plexxi affinity model is about taking a high-level abstraction of what you want to do, let the controller influence the network and take care of the low-level details. Affinity is a policy language that dictates exactly how you want the network to Continue reading

Takeaways from VMUG in Chicago

Bob getting ready - blog

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago to attend the VMware User Group conference. It was a great event where I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many server, storage and network team members. One point that struck me was that the importance of the network is becoming clearer to everyone with a stake in the data center — and we couldn’t be happier to be leading the way.

Here are a couple of my observations from Chicago’s installation of the show:

  • Beyond applications: In the past, VMUG conferences have been heavily attended by application and server teams. This year, I found that many of the attendees were networking and storage decision-makers and administrators. To me, that signals how much storage is being virtualized and how important the network has become in virtualized environments. The success of these environments will soon depend on the network and the need for cooperation and interdependency of the applications, storage and networking teams is clear.
  • Hyperconverged layers: There’s a continued emphasis on the hyperconvergence of storage and compute—and the network is getting into the mix. I had a lot of conversations on why a converged network is a Continue reading

The Hyperconverged Reality of Tomorrow

For a while now we’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about hyperconverged systems and we’ve been following it closely. We think what’s missing from these conversations is how critical the network is to the sustained success of these systems.

In our quest to build a simply better network, our key focus is on how to truly hyperconverge the network. And we do it by combining the latest in Ethernet switching with optical multiplexing to create a high performance, resilient, low latency and scalable data center network fabric. Unlike traditional leaf/spine approaches, Plexxi Switches are deployed as a single tier, eliminating cost and complexity while vastly reducing operational overhead so the enterprise can build true fabric agility to support the dynamic workload needs of hyperconverged nodes.

At VMWorld, Mat Matthews pointed out in his 5 Key Takeaways blog that hyperconverged solution providers are zoning in on the simplification of the consumption process around infrastructure. The silos are gone. Providers are recognizing that customers want to get new workloads up and running quickly without having to deal with getting storage, compute and networking to work together.

This is good news all around. We are seeing the realization that the network has Continue reading

Plexxi Announces New Network Switch Series to Power the Next Era of IT


Its not very often that something comes along that has the potential to be transformative through a new and truly differentiated approach. With Plexxi’s announcement this morning of our new Switch 2 Series , coupled with Plexxi Control and Plexxi Connect, we’re making strides to change the way networks function to support the business. Based on the needs of individual data and application workloads, the Switch 2 Series uses the innovation of Plexxi Control to dynamically change fabric topology in real time, intelligently forwarding traffic and delivering needed network capacity.

The next era of IT is being forged by the evolution of virtualization, hyperconvergence, Big Data and scale-out applications. Storage and compute have rapidly evolved over the last decade to keep pace but networking architectures have remained relatively unchanged.


Here is the evolution of networking, as we see it:

Platform One:

The network has, for decades, been built in the same multi-tier (core, leaf/spine) approach making it static and defined by it’s physical cabling.  This architecture was perfectly suited for stationary users and non-mobile applications, which created predictable north/south traffic. The traditional approach for introducing new applications in platform 1 was to “pour” them into the static network, and then Continue reading

The Future of Networking – Demonstrated at the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium

Plexxi is excited to be participating at the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium June 16 – 18 at the Baltimore Convention Center with our partners CloudGov and PSSC Labs in booth# 7071!

For anyone attending the AFCEA show, be sure to stop by to see the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) where they will be doing an SDN Use Case Proof of Concept (POC) demonstration. Plexxi is honored to be a featured technology in this POC.

Some of the key points and functionality highlighted in the SDN Use Case Proof of Concept Presentations video below are:

  • Automated provisioning
  • Improved end-to-end management and services delivery
  • Dynamic bandwidth reallocation and scheduling
  • Less time connected in the “box”/VM
  • Reduction in requirement for direct equipment access by personnel and management systems
  • Control plane separation from data plane

See DISA’s full SDN POC video:

The demonstration pod featured at the AFCEA show (a subset demonstration of the full video shown above) highlights how a data center network, integrated with VMware, can increase agility, decrease costs and improve security. Through workflow integration, the data center network is configured through the simple process of creating virtual machines (VMs) in vSphere. Seamless mobility is supported across the entire Continue reading