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Startup Pluribus Networks is proposing a top-of-rack server/switch combination that can run applications, provide storage and provision services like DNS, DHCP, load balancing, firewalls, analytics and packet capture. Through the company's operating system and hypervisor software, two or more of these server/switch combinations can create a large, virtual data center fabric with network virtualization and software-based control with a variety of proprietary and standard APIs.
[ THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: Figuring out the data center fabric maze ]
Most everyone in the industry is focusing on SDNs: software-defined networks, which seek to virtualize network hardware infrastructures to make them more flexible for VM mobility, changing traffic patterns and added features. Cisco, with its Cisco ONE programmability initiative and UCS fabric computing plan; and VMware, with its Nicira network virtualization platform and overall software-defined data center strategy, probably map closest to what Pluribus is attempting -- or vice versa.
Use cases for the Pluribus software-defined fabric are several:
Pluribus was founded in 2010 by CEO Robert Drost and CTO Sunay Tripathi, both formerly with Sun; and Vice President of Engineering Ken Yang, who is on sabbatical from UCLA. The company, based in Palo Alto, has raised $42 million from investors NEA, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Menlo Ventures.
The company saw a need to have the various components in a data center -- multivendor servers, switches, hypervisors, storage arrays, applications and operating systems -- coordinated and controlled consistently. That's the aim behind Pluribus' Netvisor operating system and hypervisor.
Netvisor runs on the Pluribus F64 server/switch. It's a distributed network hypervisor and operating system that controls and manages the Pluribus fabric and allocates pooled resources and services to virtual networks based on policies and privileges.
A Pluribus API in Netvisor allows the operating system to support other switches and chips, and enable them to be programmed, company officials say. It also supports multipath forwarding so traffic within the fabric can run east/west between racks without having to go through the core switching layer, they say.