We recently heard President Obama declare cyber security as one of his top priorities and we saw in recent time major corporations suffer tremendously from breaches and attacks. The most notable one is the breach at Anthem. For those who are still unaware, Anthem is the umbrella company that runs Blue Shield and Blue Cross Insurance as well. The attackers had access to people details, social security, home addresses, and email address for a period of month. What was taken and extent of the damage is still guesswork because network is a black hole that needs extensive tools to figure out what is happening or what happened. This also means the my family is impacted and since we use Blue Shield at Pluribus Networks, every employee and their family is also impacted prompting me to write this blog and a open invitation to the Anthem people and the government to pay attention to the new architecture that makes network play a role similar to NSA in helping protect the infrastructure. It all starts with converting the network from a black hole to something we can measure and monitor. To make this meaningful, lets look at state of the art today Continue reading
We closed our Series D in financing right before Christmas. This is a $50M round lead by Temasek and Ericsson. Temasek is a $170B plus sovereign fund out of Singapore that is best described as Berkshire Hathaway of Technology. They were the people responsible forinvestments into Alibaba. This is important to understand that with Netvisor achieving success in Enterprise Datacenter and Private Cloud markets, the bigger players now believe that SDN switching and applications on Server-Switches is pretty real.
The finding is primarily to scale our business side and help sell more products, build support infrastructure and create a application group that can write more applications on Netvisor to exploit the world of programmable networks.
The best way to explain this is to draw a parallel between Netvisor as a switch Hypervisor and Smartphone.
When Apple released a IOS based smartphone, the world was full of small hardware devices like camera, GPS navigators etc. IOS (and later Android) become a software platform that allowed many applications to come of top of this platform.
Netvisor is creating the same paradigm for datacenter switching. Today, you have a physical fabric, a separate Observability fabric (using TAPS and Continue reading
On May 5th, 2014, we announced that Pluribus Networks Netvisor is now powering the switch blades on the new Intel blade chassis announced by Supermicro Inc. Its creating quite a stir and is a proud moment for everyone at Pluribus Networks and Supermicro who made this possible.
There are several reasons why Netvisor is the ideal Hypervisor to power the switching blades:
The fight for control between sysadmin and network admin has been going on for decades but the boundary line had been pretty static. Anything that ran a full OS and was a end node was is a server is under server ops while anything that connected the servers together was a network device and was under the control of network operations.
If you look at the progression of the two side through the last two decades, you will realize that the server and server OS have gone through change after change with new software packaging system, virtualization, density of servers per rack, and so on while the networking technology has remained pretty static other than speed and feeds and some tagging protocols. While the server admin kept reinventing himself through open source, virtualization, six nine uptime, the network got split into three distinct category (forgive me Gartner for gross simplification):
Back in the days of SUN Microsystem, Scott McNealy asked us to build a big F#@!ing Webtone Switch. At that time, the underlying pieces weren’t there but over last few years the possibilities have opened up. We now have the switch chips from Broadcom and Intel that switch at 1.2Tbps in H/W. From a OS view, 1.2 Tbps of switching at 300ns latency is great but the more amazing thing is PCIe as a control plane which allows 20-40Gbps of control plane B/W where you can change switch registers, L2/L3-tables, TCAMs, etc at nano-second rates.
So after more than three years of work and million lines of C code, the Pluribus Network’s engineering team has the switch chip under Crossbow control. For people who are not sure what I am talking about, in 2005 project Crossbow invented virtual switching inside a server hypervisor and introduced hardware based Virtual NICs and dynamic polling to get 40Gbps of bandwidth through a server OS. The details were published in “Crossbow: From Hardware Virtualized NICs to Virtualized Networks” in ACM Sigcomm VISA 09.
In the goal to benefit from merchent silicon ecosystem and orchestrate the entire infrastructure using Open source OS Continue reading
After a long wait, we finally unveiled stage 1 of the big solution – the Netvisor and our intelligent Top of the Rack (iTOR) switch. If you haven’t had a chance to see, you can read about it here. At this point, we have enough boxes on the way that we can open the beta to slightly larger audience. Some more details about the hardware – it has 48 10gigabit ethernet ports which can take a sfp+ optical module, sfp+ direct attach or a 1gigbit RJ45 module along with 4x40gigabit qsfp ports. The Network Hypervisor controlling one or more iTOR is a full fledged Operating System and amongst other things capable of running your hardest applications. Comes with all tools like gcc/gdb/perl already there and you can load anything else that is not there. Why you may ask – if you always had an application that needed to be in the network, now it truly can be on the network. Imagining doing your physical or virtual load balancers, proxy servers, monitoring engines, IDS systems, SPAM filters, running on our network hypervisor where they are truly in the network without needing anything to plug in. Create you virtual networks along with Continue reading
This is the 3rd and final article in this series. As promised, lets look at some of the challenges facing this space and how we are addressing those challenges.
I have seen a lot of article about Nicira being acquired. The question no one has asked is – if the space is so hot, why did Nicira sell so early? The deal size (1.26B) was hardly chump change but if I were them and my stock was rising exponentially, then I would have held off in lure of changing the world. So what was the rush? I believe the answer lies in some of the issues I discussed in article 2 of this series a few months back–the difference between server (Controller-based) and switch (Fabric-based) approaches. The Nicira solution was very dependent on the server and the server hypervisor. The world of server operating systems and hypervisor is so fragmented that staying independent would have been a very uphill battle. Tying up with one of the biggest hypervisors made sense to ensure that their technology keeps moving forward. And Continue reading
In my last article I discussed the components of Openflow and building blocks of a Software Defined Network. In this part, let me discuss some of the things people are doing to make it all work. One of the pieces that needs to be discussed beforehand is the various ways in which a packet can be matched against a flow and what kind of actions can be taken.
A flow is a simple mechanism to identify a group of packets on the wire. So a packets coming from a particular machine can be identified by the machines MAC or IP addresses which appears as source MAC in L2 header or source IP in L3 header. By putting a flow rule around either of those fields and just counting the packets going through the switch that hit that rule, we can determine the number of packets being sent by the machine. Its useful information. To make it more useful, one could add another flow to measure the packets going to our target machine. Adding a destination MAC or destination IP rule based on the machines Continue reading
Often time I hear the term Openflow and Software Defined Networking Networking used in many different context which range from solving something simple and useful to literally solving the world hunger problem (or fixing the world economy for that matter). I often get asked to explain the various aspects of how Openflow is changing our lives. So here goes a explanation of the religion called Openflow (and Software Defined Networking) and various ways its manifesting itself in our day to day life. Again its too much to write in one article so I will make it a series of 3 articles. This one focuses on the protocol itself. The 2nd article will focus on how people are trying to develop it and some end user perspective that I have accumulated in last year or so. The last article in series will discuss the challenges and what are we doing to help.
The basic piece of Openflow is nothing more than a wire protocol that allows a piece of code to talk to another piece of code. The idea is that for a typical network equipment, instead of logging in and configuring Continue reading
So the theme of the day is Network Virtualization, Software defined networks and taking virtualization to its logical conclusion i.e. server, storage and network in a giant resource pool that can be allocated/assigned any which way. Although its easier said then done. Server and Storage virtualization were a bit simpler since we were dealing with one OS that needed to provide the right abstraction layer. The H/W resource pool (disk, cpu, network, memory, etc) was managed by the single OS so provisioning it between various virtual machines or storage pool was a bit simpler. The network by definition is useful only when multiple devices are connected and trying to treat them as a single resource pool is harder. A virtual networks has to deal with not just links, bandwidth, latency and queues but also
higher level functionality like routing, load balancing, firewalling, DNS, DHCP, VPN, etc. etc. And we haven’t even talked about how this all will hook up together along with virtual machines and virtual storage pool in a easy manner. Now before you argue that every component is already virtualized (which is very true), one could argue that it still doesn’t give me a virtual network. It Continue reading
When I left Solaris after the Sun/Oracle marger, it was because I wanted to try some new things in life possibly based on OpenSolaris. I had led Solaris in networking and network virtualization space for a long time and wanted to make a bigger mark in that space compared to what Oracle might have wanted. But my hope was that Solaris as a Open Source Operating System would continue to prosper and I could possibly use OpenSolaris as a base for whatever I decided to do next. Well, the exodus from Solaris has continued over the past few months and now Mike has also decided to call it quits. Mike was one of my counterparts, running the storage side of the house (other leaders in storage and filesystem space, like Jeff and Bryan had already bailed out of Solaris few months after I left).
So at this point, I am forced to consider the fact that Solaris and OpenSolaris are on the brink of death unless something serious is done about it. Having spent so much time and energy in last 15 years on Solaris (including bringing it back from life after the last tech bust when Solaris had been Continue reading
This is probably one of the most difficult entries I have ever written. I have decided to leave my job at Oracle. Don’t have a forward destination yet but I intend to take some time thinking about it before I take the next step. I am leaving Oracle but I will still be involved with Solaris and OpenSolaris in some form or the other. Having spent 14 years writing million+ lines of code and architecting some of the most complex subsystems, I don’t intend to just walk away.
The last 2-3 days have been a very emotional journey for me. I thought I was a very strong willed person but it was amazing how many times I came close to tears when so many people stopped by. All I can say is that I am so grateful that the community feels that I had done something useful (both personally and professionally) for Solaris. The journey has been nothing but wonderful and I will surely miss everyone. But I have learned one thing in last several years – to not say goodbye ever because our paths will cross again!!
Best of luck to everyone in the Solaris community who help it Continue reading