There are three attributes network architects must incorporate when designing networks for organizations like service providers, ISPs and backbone networks that routinely run multiple 100G connections: scale, performance and flexibility. Problem is, most SDN offerings only ever offer 2 of those 3 necessary attributes and that creates an unacceptable choice.
None offer the flexibility and performance SDN promises at the scale or dynamic nature these networks require at the WAN edge. This is the primary dilemma we solve with our suite of products that we refer to as “Performance SDN.”
While I hold up service providers, telcos and National Research and Engineering consortiums as examples of organizations that require internet-scale wide area networks, they are not alone. In his recent article for Network World, Lee Doyle, a Principal Analyst at Doyle Research, describes the incredible amount of network bandwidth that large web scale providers such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft require between their physical and virtual servers. Doyle points out that over the next several years, all Ethernet links will be migrating from 10GB to 100GB. That means the demands of delivering high performance and massive scale in the WAN is already trickling down to enterprise-scale networks. You can read the full article here: “The SDN network as a competitive advantage.”
The industry has responded with SDN as a way to address the flexibility challenge. But most SDN offerings – let’s call them ‘value-SDN’ – simply don’t have the horsepower that internet-scale WAN networks require today, or will in the near future.
Another common approach for vendors is to simply layer functionality on top of their existing high-performance networking equipment in an attempt to add flexibility. Some have adopted a software-controlled networking approach using various standard configuration and management interfaces. Others have bolted-on SDN controller capabilities to their existing switches, and still others have bolted on some SDN functionality to their networking equipment.
Lots of options, but they all have one thing in common: None offer the necessary scale, performance and flexibility.
Performance SDN lets you create economic savings and technological and operational simplicity for networking. You enable automatic and global orchestration of the network by intelligently separating the (software) control plane from the (hardware) data plane. This allows global network orchestrators to create policy-based flow-forwarding at a granular level, anywhere in the network, running on hardware platforms under common control.
To earn the label ‘Performance SDN,’ a solution must provide:
- Multiple match action tables: With flexible and generalized matches possible in each and every table. This provides developers the creative freedom they need for innovative network protocol design that can flow-forward based on any level of granularity, anywhere in the network.
- Over 1 million flow entries: An internet router commonly holds between half a million and one million IPv4 route entries in its forwarding tables. ToR switches deployed as SDN pseudo data planes have the capacity to hold only a few thousand IP addresses in their OpenFlow tables.
- Large-scale Packet Buffers: Congestion, packet loss and TCP window collapse are inevitable in most network configurations. Managing these conditions often requires deep packet buffers in order to prevent packet loss, and the corresponding collapse of traffic throughput. SDN networks are no different and require the same.
- SDN data plane with line-rate 100G
- Dynamic, real-time traffic management with SDN QoS and metering
Network architects too often face a frustrating decision: choose either performance or flexibility or scale. What they need is all three: Flexible performance at internet-scale. And that is precisely what Corsa was founded to provide.