Big Switch Networks: SDN-enabled Hyperscale Networking Fabrics
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Big Switch Networks: SDN-enabled Hyperscale Networking Fabrics

Douglas Murray, CEO, Big Switch NetworksDouglas Murray, CEO
The networking technology is scaling new heights with hardware-based traditional networking getting software interface. In this regard, Software Defined Networking, the key enabler of networks through software is helping accelerate huge data transmissions and also provide the administrator the ability to control the network through a single interface. Such an ability of SDN is helping transform the data center networking with flexible and automated server provisioning. Here, the underlying networking hardware is made to work alongside SDN to build scalable, high availability, and low-latency network. Bringing all the SDN advantages to the fore is Big Switch Networks, a hyperscale networking technology provider. The company leverages sophisticated SDN control software and combines it with commodity switch hardware for monitoring and securing the network. “Data center networking is going through a dramatic change as both SDN and hardware or software disaggregation adoption accelerates,” says Douglas Murray, CEO, Big Switch Networks.

Big Switch provides Big Monitoring Fabric, a next-generation Network Packet Broker (NPB). It is a modern 1G/10G/40G network visibility fabric leveraging high-performance open Ethernet switches to provide pervasive security monitoring and visibility of an organization’s network traffic at ultra-low CapEx/OpEx costs. It utilizes the SDN-centric architecture to enable scale-out fabric for network-wide monitoring with a single pane of glass for operational simplicity and multi-tenancy. The architecture comprises of Open Ethernet switches which include Dell Open Networking (ON) switches and ODM switches from Accton and Quanta. It also has Big Switch’s SDN-enabled Switch Light OS and cluster of SDN-enabled Big Monitoring Fabric Controllers. The lightweight Switch Light OS leverages complete HW ASIC capabilities to support production-grade data center features. And fabric controllers are a pair of virtual machines enabling centralized configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting in a simplified manner.

Switchlight is our OS that resides on the bare metal switch, and is used in Big Cloud Fabric


To bring hyperscale data center design principles to cloud environments, Big Switch delivers Big Cloud Fabric, an open networking SDN data center fabric. It supports both physical and virtual workloads and the choice of orchestration software. With its unprecedented functionalities, applications can take advantage of high east-west bisectional bandwidth. Big Cloud Fabric consists of Controller Cluster, Open Networking Leaf and Spine Switch Hardware, Switch Light OS, Switch Light VX, OpenStack Plug-in, VMware vCenter Extension and CloudStack Plug-in. “Switchlight is our OS that resides on the bare metal switch, and is used in Big Cloud Fabric,” says Murray. The physical switching fabric in the architecture of Big Cloud Fabric is based on leaf-spine Clos and can be extended to virtual switches residing in the hypervisor. Leaf and Spine switches running Switch Light OS form the individual nodes of this physical fabric. Switch Light Virtual running within the hypervisor extends the fabric to the virtual switches.

At one instance, U2 Cloud, a cloud service provider, needed a unique networking fabric for supporting cloud architectures like their new offering Workspaces, a powerful and secure provisioning platform, and integrate it with core technologies like VMware vSphere. To support the Workspace-as-a-Service, the client implemented Big Cloud Fabric with Dell ON switches. The product seamlessly integrated with VMware vSphere and provided a centralized view into the network—easing provisioning and management across the data center. This centralized view enhances operational simplicity by providing a single dashboard as well as quick and easy access to troubleshooting, analytics and telemetry information.

Forging ahead, Big Switch aims to bring hyperscale networking to organizations by innovating and delivering fit-for-purpose SDN solution. “We understand the importance of innovation velocity and are rapidly adding transformational capabilities in support of our mission to disrupt the status quo of networking,” concludes Murray.