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Cisco inspired SDN start-up targets I/O control

PLUMgrid explains a little bit more of what it's up to

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 09/13/12 - 3:06pm.

PLUMgrid, an SDN start-up started up by a bunch of former Cisco engineers, this week provided a bit more color into what they're up to. While not divulging product specifics, they did open the kimono a little bit into their strategy.

As reported, PLUMgrid plans to establish itself first in network virtualization - its "beachhead," as company executives called it back when they emerged from stealth - and then branch off into other areas of IT from there. What the company is developing is an intelligent I/O interconnect for controlling distributed systems, including networks, storage, compute and applications. Think Xsigo but beyond just networking and storage, and with a significant software component and potential ecosystem.

Company officials described it as an operating system for managing a grid of distributed data planes with an integrated application ecosystem. It will be a runtime environment in which the PLUMgrid I/O system controls network, storage and application protocols and "makes sure information is framed within the right container," says CEO and co-founder Awais Nemat.

The company notes that 80% of bits in a data center run "east/west," which means there's a lot of back and forth between servers and storage elements. The network, then, should serves as a "true transport interconnect" to facilitate, manage and control those interactions on behalf of the applications requiring them.

The PLUMgrid I/O control system will include some "basic" applications at first customer ship but also include an SDK for integration of third-party applications. The level of application integration will depend on application needs and interactions, Nemat says.

It's also intended to be vendor agnostic.

PLUMgrid might be on to something. According to an upcoming survey of 1,500 IT officials to be released by Emulex later this month, Big Data, cloud, virtualization and network convergence are putting pressure on data centers to increase network bandwidth and network I/O.  Seventy-six percent of the IT organization respondents believe network I/O is the most critical potential bottleneck in the data center.

More than a quarter -- 27% -- say the need for network I/O increases by 100% or more each year.

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