Big Switch aims to control the cloud with SDN product

Unveils Cloud Fabric controller for grouping servers, switches and apps into tenant-centric “pods”

Big Switch Networks this week is unveiling an SDN controller designed to bring Google-like hyperscale networking to enterprises.

The software, called Cloud Fabric, runs on bare metal switches and allows users to build cloud “pods” where racks of servers, switches and applications can be grouped logically to serve a specific function, such as an OpenStack private cloud (, Hadoop big data cluster, or a virtual desktop infrastructure.

This is in contrast to operating, provisioning and monitoring each individual business application, such as SAP or Oracle or Microsoft Office, as its own silo.

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Cloud Fabric works with Big Switch’s SwitchLight operating system on spine switches, and SwitchLight OS on leafs. Optional components are an OpenStack plugin and SwitchLight virtual switches on leafs.

SwitchLight speaks OpenFlow 1.3 to the Cloud Fabric controller. The controller also supports high availability and zero touch provisioning features, Big Switch says. It supports Microsoft HyperV, KVM, VMware and Open vSwitch-enabled hypervisors.

Big Switch believes next-generation data center switching – white box hardware and software, fabrics, virtual switching and overlays – will gradually supplant traditional top-of-rack and aggregation switching in the data center. Though it represented less than $1 billion of the total $8 billion-plus data center switching market in 2013, next-generation data center switching will be about a $6 billion piece of the overall $13 billion market by 2019, the company predicts.

“There’s a big shift going on in the market,” says Big Switch CEO Doug Murray. “We’re at an inflection point where the market is going to shift over the next three years.”

Cloud Fabric, which is in 10 beta sites, will ship this quarter.

Big Switch hopes Cloud Fabric enjoys the same momentum as its Big Tap monitoring application. Bookings for that product doubled in the second quarter compared to the first, with wins in financial, federal government, public sector service provider and high tech verticals in three continents, says Murray.

Big Tap 4.0, the company’s newest release, has added support for Accton and Dell hardware, and now allows users to share tools between data centers, Murray says.

Big Switch also landed its first million dollar customer in the first quarter, Murray says, with a deployment across 16 data centers. And all this progress before its resale partnership with Dell commences in the second half of the year.

And the company has expanded and added new partners, some of them replacing ones who have departed, Murray says. Among the new partners are HortonWorks for enterprise-grade Hadoop deployments; FireEye for VM-based security; Accto; Telchemy for video analytics; and iwNetworks for bare metal Ethernet switches.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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