Containers, hyperconvergence and disaggregation are hot

The way some vendors see 2016 shaping up, disaggregation, hyperconvergence, container networking and consolidation of the roster of SDN players will be key touchpoints.

Big Switch Networks believes two more major vendors will announce disaggregation and white box networking strategies this year. Disaggregation involves decoupling hardware and software dependencies so that commodity switches can run network operating systems from multiple vendors, and those OSes can run on different switching hardware.

To date, HP, Dell and Juniper are some of the major vendors that have embraced disaggregation. There’s talk that Cisco and Arista will also support it to some degree but to what extent is unclear.

+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: Will network disaggregation play in the enterprise+

Big Switch doesn’t know who the two might be, but is confident we’ll see some big movement this year.

“The market is accelerating at a rapid pace as you know, and customers are now demanding choice,” says Big Switch CEO Doug Murray. “To me it’s not about IF these large networking companies will move to disaggregation, but rather WHEN. While there are several obvious candidates, the billion dollar question is, when will Cisco feel enough customer pressure to broadly embrace this trend”

Murray also believes that six independent SDN vendors, of which Big Switch is one, will be whittled down to three by the end of this year, either through acquisition or liquidation. Naturally, Murray believes Big Switch will be left standing.

"We fully expect Big Switch to continue to expand geographically and sustain our over 300% year-over-year growth rate, while remaining independent," Murray says.

Another trend that’ll be hard to miss in 2016 is hyperconvergence, the practice of converging compute, storage, networking and virtualization into a single virtual IT entity. According to Juniper Networks, computing and storage capabilities will collapse into a single computation function to sit right next to the data it is working on, setting the stage for hyperconvergence to become the standard way of computing.

“Our customers are interested in the approach because it allows them to build an IT data center or hybrid cloud that’s easy to use and manage while reducing overall cost,” says Jennifer Blatnik, Juniper vice president of cloud marketing. “Most importantly it allows enterprises to scale out incrementally by adding more modules as opposed to scaling up with bigger hosts.”

Juniper routers, switches, firewalls and Contrail SDN controllers are being integrated into converged and hyperconverged IT systems from its partners.

Juniper also believes containerized applications and networking will be front and center this year. The company cites recent announcements from container vendors like Docker, which allow for containers to connect to sister containers when they are discovered in a cluster, data center or a remote cloud.

Another facilitator is the increasing adoption of and momentum behind Kubernetes, a container development environment created and supported by Google.

Enterprise IT can benefit from containers as a lighter weight and more efficient way to run applications and services – or “microservices” – than virtual machines, Juniper says. Every VM that’s spun up requires an operating system image installation, whereas multiple containers can share a single OS, the company says.

This is beneficial for IT departments implementing microservices architectures in which enterprise applications – services -- are developed as independently deployable modules based on business capability that can moved, changed or deleted without affecting the entire application.

“Because of the way they are constructed, containers are significantly more suited for microservices architecture because it allows enterprises to develop, deploy, and manage their business applications more efficiently in a modular approach rather than with the conventional overhead-laden VM architecture,” Blatnik says.

Better connectivity and improved overall security will remove some major sticking points to enterprise adoption of containers, Juniper predicts. Juniper is one of several vendors looking to enhance the networking and orchestration support for containers through disaggregation, specifically within its Junos OS software, Blatnik says.

Disaggregated Junos makes networking software stack capabilities more consumable as services, she says.


Jim Duffy

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