To keep up with the growth of cloud computing and virtualization, networks keep evolving. But unlike Twitter's Trending Topics, IT budgets don't scale up. In fact one of the major initiatives in many IT shops is creatively reduce their own expense.
To get to a scalable cloud infrastructure where costs are contained, it sounds like the network industry is going to see a time where a "Linux" arrives on the scene. An open source alternative to building networks may disrupt the networking landscape and give network admins an open source network operating system.
Virtualization: It's in the Network Too
Distributing workload across machines, storage, and environments has required networks to be smarter than ever. Now, the network needs to be intelligent enough to not only route traffic both a bridge and a toll-gate, but to also provision and de-provision all aspects of the environment at a moments notice.
Providers like Rackspace are in the business of using the network to optimize the performance of the entire data center. To be effective in keeping up with dynamic system provisioning, technical teams need access to all tiers of the computing environment to reduce operations overhead.
Extreme XOS enable large scale hosting providers to look deeper into networking gear and start to tune it themselves. And enterprises may follow this trend.Hosting providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace innovate new integration patterns - including ones in the core of the network - to get their job done. Network operating systems that are open, like
Servers Don't Sleep at Night, but Applications and Admins Do
For a long time, networks have been used to detect the peers and devices. Many of us use the nearly ubiquitous DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), which is the the thing that automatically assigns IP addresses to a PC when plugging into the network.
In an analogy, there is a need for a "super DHCP" is needed that can keep up with the highly virtualized cloud infrastructure per virtual instance. To do this, engineers look deeper to find efficiencies in how the network talks to the hardware and software for the virtual machines.
A good example of benefit for this is where a resource has peak loads during the day. Due to natural usage, the applications compute power is not utilized during the night. Using monitoring and provisioning tools, the network can de-provision the extra hardware and offer it to another service. This "freeing up" allocation saves power and money.
This is a simple example of where virtual data center solutions are being innovated in the industry to figure out how to further timeshare the computing resources. The network has the ability to help manage the scale down to the moment is enabled by it's reach to everything over IP (Internet Protocol).
The Open Network Wins, Developers Rule
Extreme Networks is betting IT leaders that have become very familiar with Linux and open source Hypervisors like XEN want to tweak the network. For the data center manager that wants to go into the core network engines innovate, there comes a need for APIs, SDKS, and open access libraries.
Extreme's openness is in the form of web services, many offered that are offered as XML or CLI scripting that allow integrate tools into the core of the network via XML, and configure edge ports for security and VOIP access as dynamic provisioning.
The company offers a code workbench of its own to download widgets to plug into the network. Designed for the open source developer, it shares the familiar pattern that presides in open source community for application frameworks and operating systems code sharing.
Shown in the diagram, Extreme's network offers real-time provisioning of code widgets in the network.
Play Nice: the Networks Worst Enemy May be Success
Will the network evolve to see an open source player that drives change in pricing and value?
In the rush to enable new efficiencies we wonder if this is an Apple A-HA moment in the making. The question seems to be can the giants in the space balance the fine line of better end-to-end experience of managing the environment and whether vendors do it best. If we follow the Apple example of industry success, and end-to-end play for the network may be in the cards.
Last month, Juniper announced it has created a new business group and commitment to an Junos ecosystem.
Juniper has made a big move towards open source innovation in it's recent re-branding and at least to one analyst, John Furrier from Silicon Angle, seems to be suggesting that Juniper Judo'ing Cisco, like Google did with Open and Microsoft. That probably doesn't feel the least bit nice to the market leader, especially when Cisco is priming it's engines for changing the Internet forever.
Cisco announced opening IOS in 2007 in an effort towards compartmentalizing IOS as part of its overall movement into a more software based organization. With the complex series of network enhancements and feature sets, it will be interesting to see how Cisco views "open" vs. "customizable" and where the control lives for network management and up-time.
When visiting the Cisco IOS website today, we see the standard license and no clear mention of open source licensing. Cisco strikes the balance between open and controlled in it's a approach to defining what an open network is and where networks will be encapsulated as services.
We wonder if Cisco deliver the capabilities to pull more traffic into it's end-to-end range, while open networking APIs rise as part of the network service stack. With this market, it's likely both. At very least, open networking has a role in determining the fate of the network and where territories are being defined.
The Cloud is a Network of Services
The cloud is defining a world where service orientation rules - both the software and physical layers. And, it is breaking the rules of workload distribution, where network topologies are changing. The requirements of connecting the layer 2 and layer 3 networks, as well as IT leaders that are building solutions for mass scaling (enterprises or service providers) are evolving and being driven by an ability to be efficient at the workload level.
Extreme Networks Technical Brief, Dynamic Network Virtualization Overview, explains the value of plug and play network components in today's topology.
"By leveraging Extreme Networks® ExtremeXOS®, a modular, edge-to-core operating system, and our extensibility frame-work including Universal Port Scripting and an XML interface, Extreme Networks is able to tightly integrate the switching network with the virtualization environment to create a virtualization-aware network fabric that automates the network-level virtualization required in next generation data center and cloud computing environments. This unique functionality enables Extreme Networks to provide seamless support of virtualization capabilities across the various hypervisor platforms, including Citrix ZEN, Microsoft and VMware. The highly integrated solution allows the Extreme Networks solutions to trigger responses to virtualization moves as they happen in the network by virtue of a tightly integrated XML-based network management framework."
Extreme, and now Juniper, are moving in the direction of offering IT administrators control points in networks and protocols to optimize it opens the market.
It looks promising to give administrators vendor leverage in buying services without vendor lock, or waiting for feature releases from the vendor. And, it mirrors the open-source movement in bringing communities together to solve problems and build compatible services.
Open APIs may define the cloud's network of the future for large hosting providers. We wonder if for the enterprise.
Photo credit: opensourceway