While the rising interest in all things related to software-defined networking (SDN) is expected to create a $21 billion market by 2018, layering modern networking software on top of legacy network switches may not be the best use of an IT investment.
That’s the case the folks at Plexxi, a provider of Ethernet switches that are based on optical multiplexing technology, are trying to make. According to Mike Bushong, vice president of marketing for Plexxi, it doesn’t make much sense to apply a new layer of abstraction for managing the network when the underlying infrastructure is essentially an archaic mess that is based on networking technology that is several decades old.
An optical approach, by contrast, allows IT organizations to directly connect resources to each other across the network using dynamic connections that can now be easily programmed using SDN technology that Plexxi has integrated with its optical switches.
Not only does this approach require much less space in the data center, Bushong says it’s more efficient because the amount of network resources being made available dynamically scales directly in accordance with application workload requirements, versus having to dedicate specific ports on legacy switches to specific applications.
Taking that architecture to its next logical extension, Plexxi has begun opening its application programming interfaces. For example, the company recently announced an alliance with SolidFire under which its SDN technologu will be integrated with the SolidFire solid-state disk (SSD) storage systems.
There’s no doubt that enterprise networking in the next few years is going to be transformed. The question that IT organizations will have to answer is whether that’s going to occur in a series of half measures or as part of one giant leap forward that should include a long anticipated jump into optical networking in the enterprise.