Network switch

Aruba Launches Network Switch With Pensando Programmable Chip

Aruba Networks is partnering with silicon startup Pensando on a data center switch designed to integrate the tasks currently performed by optimized appliances and deliver them as distributed services.

Aruba’s CX 10000 series top-of-rack switch will enable enterprises to deploy the same flexible, open, and service-oriented network infrastructures managed by hyperscalers and cloud providers in their own data centers or facilities. flatsharing. Rather than performing security tasks and other tasks such as firewalls, encryption, network address translation, and load balancing in separate appliances, these tasks are provided as a service with report via Pensando’s integrated Elba data processing unit (DPU).

New L2 / L3 switch will enable businesses to move forward in a world of hybrid and edge clouds, where more network traffic runs east-to-west, between devices in a center data, rather than north to south between systems residing in facilities. It creates a distributed services environment that runs through this new distributed services switch, according to John Gray, data center marketing manager for Aruba, which is owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Focus on east-west traffic

The development of the switch is driven by the amount and speed of traffic coming from the public cloud, with up to 70% of that traffic moving east to west – from one virtual machine to another, between servers, or from one virtual machine to another. ‘container to container, Gray said. Corporate networking planet.

“Over the past decade, data center customers have built software-defined infrastructures, be it 10 gig [Gigabit Ethernet, or GbE}, 25, 100, 400 gig leaf-and-spine infrastructures,” he said. “That has helped from a performance perspective, but what hasn’t helped is the introduction of that service chaining. The way customers address that today is literally with multimillion-dollar firewalls, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of L4-7 appliances that are hung off a separate services leaf within the data center that isn’t designed to deal with that [east-west] traffic… where the application is located.

The location of the application in modern infrastructures can also be the edge of the enterprise or a colocation site towards the edge of a customer’s IT environment. The result is a lot of “traffic pinning” across the service layer, which inhibits performance, increases complexity and costs, and makes scalability difficult.

“These firewalls cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and they are designed for the north-south. [traffic], not so much east-west, ”Gray said. “What we’re doing with the Distributed Services Switch is integrating these technologies into the software, accelerating them with silicon, and moving that place in the network into the network structure at the top of the rack in a way as close as possible where these requests are processed.

Read also : Security management in multicloud environments

A leap forward in terms of performance and costs

The result is a 10-fold improvement in performance and 1,000 times the scalability of traditional network infrastructures at one-third the cost, he said. The CX 10000 is based on Aruba’s existing AOS-CX network operating system and its CX switch line of high-end switches for campuses and data centers. The new switch also runs Aruba Fabric Composer software for CX switch provisioning and infrastructure unification that also includes HPE data center systems.

The new switch, which will be available in January 2022 starting at $ 45,000, offers switching capacity of 3.2 TB / s and 48 10 and 25 GbE ports and six 40 and 100 GbE ports.

Security management is a key part of the switch. Running traffic through a series of security appliances can be expensive and adversely affect performance. The CX 10000 encrypts traffic, provides firewall capabilities, and enables network microsegmentation, allowing traffic to access only those areas of the network that are needed. It also helps enterprises extend zero trust architectures to the edge.

Read also : Micro-data centers are evolving at the cutting edge

Pensando DPU

A key to the CX 10000 is the Pensando DPU, or smartNIC. The company was started in 2017 by several Cisco Systems veterans, including former CEO John Chambers, who is the startup’s president. DPUs are increasingly popular in modern data centers as another way to offload certain tasks from a system’s processor in order to improve performance. The Elba DPU is essential to help integrate services into the switch and remove devices from the infrastructure.

Pensando has already raised $ 313 million, with HPE among the investors. Alongside Chambers, other former Cisco veterans including Prem Jain, now CEO of the company, Luca Cafiero, Mario Mazzola and Soni Jiandani (chief business officer), who during their years at Cisco created many companies that were then folded into the networking giant. Another former Cisco executive who helped found Pensando was Vipin Jain, who is now the new company’s chief technology officer.

With Pensando, Chambers and the others are now producing silicon that people like Aruba can use in their competition with Cisco and other network providers, as well as other DPU makers like Nvidia and Broadcom. Cloud providers and hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Facebook have been using DPUs for several years.

“Tackle the giants”

At an online event with HPE and Pensando, Chambers said he wanted to make the cloud more accessible and “make it possible for any major hyperscaler to compete with AWS and now bring it down to any major hyperscaler. business or government agency. … We have the chance to change a whole market and face the giants. It’s fun to take on the big competitors and shoot them down.

For its part, HPE has been offering Pensando’s technology for about a year in the servers of its Apollo, ProLiant and Edgeline portfolios as well as through its hybrid cloud platform GreenLake.

“Now we are bringing this technology and integrating it into a network switch form factor,” Gray said.

Alan Weckel, founder and technology analyst at 650 Group, said during a presentation where the CX 10000 was announced that Aruba, HPE and Pensando’s push towards a distributed services network architecture makes sense at a time when the he IT environment is changing rapidly, with multiclouds and hybrid clouds as well as private clouds, colocation centers and the edge, and in an age when data – creating it, moving and storing, managing and securing it – are what matters most.

Address pain points

The use of offloading technologies such as DPUs is important, Weckel said.

“If we look at the evolution of servers, we have FPGAs [field-programmable gate arrays], ASIC, smartNIC, we now call them DPUs, and it was all about fixing these issues through hardware and software, ”he said. “To a certain extent the server has been a bit ahead of this smartNIC category and now DPU. This creates a great opportunity for the network to embrace the same kind of technology and accelerate the way we deploy workloads and actually solve customer issues. Human simply cannot evolve from what we have done in the past.

Businesses will likely adopt new offerings like the CX 10000 if it means simplifying operations, eliminating complexity and costs, and improving security and scalability.

“They can’t scale, they have application drift, they have security drift, they have data and this class of products allows them to look at the network a little differently and maybe build the network on a 10- annual basis, ”said Weckel. “That’s why they’re going to look at it in terms of deployments.”

He doesn’t see much in terms of hurdles, adding that “hybrid cloud and business are moving so fast these days, whether it’s because we work from home or just for the agility factor, which ‘they will be quick to adopt this because it will allow them to move faster and be more agile or just closer to the cloud.

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