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Plexxi Marries SDN to Hyperconverged Infrastucture

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Interest in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is running high because it allows IT organizations to combine the management of compute and storage in the same platform. Now Plexxi wants to extend that HCI concept to include the network.

Plexxi this week unveiled updates to its Plexxi Control software-defined networking (SDN) and Plexxi Connect software that make it simpler to plug an SDN into HCI platforms from Nutanix running either VMware or the Acropolis operating environment developed by Nutanix.

In addition, Plexxi introduced a network switch, dubbed Switch 3eq Ethernet that is based on white-box technologies that Plexxi will now support on behalf of customers.

Mat Mathews, vice president of product management for Plexxi, says that in addition to making it simpler to add networking to an HCI platform, the other major benefit Plexxi is now bringing is that IT organizations can more easily separate compute and storage traffic within an HCI platform. One of the reasons HCI platforms don’t scale as well as traditional rack-based systems is that compute and storage resources all share the same internal network. The Plexxi SDN controller makes it possible for IT organizations to better isolate compute and storage traffic without having to give up the other benefits of having a simpler HCI platform to manage, says Mathews.

“IT organizations don’t want to be forced into focusing on different silos,” says Mathews.

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Longer term, Mathews also notes that IT organizations will want the option to mix and match HCI appliances without having to get locked into a platform from a single vendor. In fact, some HCI software will soon manifest itself in a public cloud, while still needing to be integrated with HCI appliances running on-premises, says Mathews.

The relationship between networks and HCI platform is clearly evolving rapidly. The days when HCI was solely about compute and storage are coming to an end. The next challenge is going to be figuring out how to bring all those HCI resources together on a common network.

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