Light Reading
The Stratus fabric arrives as Juniper explains its plan for huge, distributed data centers that it says Cisco (and others) can't match

How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
2/23/2011
50%
50%

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a Wednesday press event, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) unveiled QFabric, its overarching technology for scaling the control, data and management planes of the data center.

Yes, after hearing about the Stratus data-center fabric for two years, it's finally here and has a name.

QFabric is rather esoteric, but Juniper is providing a box for the press to fawn over: the first new product instantiating QFabric. Juniper claims it is the fastest 10Gbit/s top-of-rack switch ever, the 64-port QFX3500.

What's more important is the entire structure behind QFabric, which makes the data center behave as if it were one giant switch. QFabric comes in three pieces: node, interconnect and director.

The nodes, consisting of Ethernet switches and similar devices, house a distributed control plane that's overseen by the director, which is made of software running on an ordinary server. Multiple directors can be planted around the network, operating as a hive mind to oversee this distributed control plane.

The interconnect is Juniper's mechanism for sending packets between nodes at what the company claims is nearly the lowest latency possible. There's a bit of magic here: CTO Pradeep Sindhu likens it to the superposition principle in quantum mechanics, in which photons take every possible path, and we see the sum of those paths. He wouldn't elaborate much, but apparently, packets have every possible path through the network available to them.

QFabric also avoids congestion using a mechanism similar to backpressure in water pipes, Sindhu said. Again, he wouldn't give details.

Neither is Juniper saying how big of a virtual data center can be built with QFabric. Those details will come out in June or July, Sindhu said.

Why this matters
This is Stratus fabric that Juniper has been talking about for two years. It's the company's ambitious attempt to become a crucial cog in enterprise data centers and a major offensive against a major Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) stronghold.

They're all pitching ways to create larger data centers that can accommodate the virtualization and heavily distributed applications that are coming in vogue. There's also a nod here to the big data centers built by the likes of Facebook and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). The trick is to avoid building monstrous data centers that get bogged down in performance or overloading space and power limitations.

The answer being posed by Juniper -- and by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), in an earlier announcement -- is to make the data center look like one giant switch, as far as the network is concerned. Part of the philosophy is to prevent having to add more layers of switches in order to make the network bigger.

Juniper's approach doesn't require that you use Juniper gear in the data center, although the company admits things will work better if you do.

Competition in this "fabric" concept is going to be intense, as vendors are, in a sense, selling the entire data center as a product, something much bigger and more complex than selling Ethernet switches.

For more
Here's the saga of Stratus (with a little bit of Brocade One and Cisco Universal Computing System added).



— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

(18)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:19 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


I admit i rammed this story through without aid of the Juniper QFabric press release.  The node, interconnect, and director have real names: QF/Node, QF/Interconnect, QF/Director.


The latter two will be available in Q3, Juniper says. The Node can be just about anything with a standard interface -- any Ethernet switch, basically, but it does have to have some Juniper software infused.


The press conference is still going on, at this writing.  David Yen is saying the '3500 is actually 48x10GE plus 4x40G ports -- and those 40 can be split into 4x10G each if you want, which adds up to 64.


Claim is that the '3500 never drops packets, period, at any load level. Sounds hard to believe, but considering it's an easily tested factoid, Juniper must have a lot to back that up. Wonder if they'll submit it for that next set of 10GE tests that Nick Lippis plans to run.

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:18 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


I may have overstated this in the story: QFabric is not meant to interconnect physically separate data centers.  Sindhu is saying they're working on a plan for that, but it's going to have to be a different technology.  Across sizable distance, the speed of light limits QFabric's abilities, apparently.

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:18 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Hey, they're gonna try. But to your point: it's noteworthy that the FC stuff is coming *later.*

Bob Saccamano
50%
50%
Bob Saccamano,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:18 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Juniper as a thought leader around Fibre Channel?  Oh please.

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:18 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Brocade talks about the same layer-collapsing philosophy. They didn't give us the deep dive that Juniper did, so I can't directly compare the approaches - that could be interesting to look into.


Cisco's version of this is the unified fabric, especially in the sense of combining Ethernet and Fibre Channel. Juniper doesn't have that yet, it appears, but David Yen at the press conference is saying QFabric will eventually solve Fibre Channel scalability too.


Cisco does describe its unified fabric as creating a flat network. The approach, if i'm recalling it correctly, doesn't have the same back-to-basics approach Juniper took -- that is, Juniper's seems to be more of a complete rebuilding of the data center. (Note that you can migrate to QFabric in pieces; I think Juniper's said that before).

willygeorge
50%
50%
willygeorge,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:17 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Juniper seems to already support  FCoE and Fiber Channel GW functionality on the QXF3500


http://www.juniper.net/us/en/products-services/switching/qfx-series/qfx3500/#literature


 


http://networktest.com/jnprqfx3500/

Bob Saccamano
50%
50%
Bob Saccamano,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:17 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Did Juniper represent that QFabric uses only custom silicon that Juniper developed?

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:17 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Why now? I'm curious about the timing of the announcement give that quite a few details are months down the road.

farsonic
50%
50%
farsonic,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:16 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center
I dont think it is big conspiracy as to why announce now. The qfx3500 works perfectly fine as a standalone top of rack switch, and the fabric can be added later to expand the solution.

So, if they have shipping product best get it out the door,
Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:15 PM
re: How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center


Bob -- No, they did not... at least, my take is that they didn't. QFabric could very well include off-the-shelf chips too.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Innovating Access Technology With G.fast

10|1|14   |   3.42   |   (0) comments


Exploring the potential of G.fast technology from the point of view of the Broadband Forum, Huawei – and an end-user.
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
SoftBank Eyes a DreamWorks Buy – Report
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/29/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed