Datacenter networking is still in its teens

Forresters analysis of current data center networking solutions says that they are still immature

Data center networking solutions on offer today are still in their teen years and it will take some time for them to reach adulthood says Forresters analysis of leading data center networking solutions. After a comprehensive analysis of solutions from vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, Arista Networks, Avaya, Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, Hewlett-Packard, and Juniper Networks and combing through customer stories, technical documents, and vendor responses, researchers at Forrester concluded that even though the proposed solutions offer tremendous value, todays data center networking solutions are immature.

In his latest blog, analyst Andre Kindness who serves infrastructure & operations professionals wrote that data center networking solutions have just hit their teen years and exhibit teenager characteristics. Kindness outlined five traits exhibited by todays top solutions to substantiate his theory. According to him, today data center networking solutions:

Continuously re-identifying themselves. At one time, data center networking characteristics were one-dimensional, focused on flattening the network. Now the conversation has expanded to include the integration of virtualized and physical infrastructure while creating a fabric of horizontally interwoven networking components. However, customers will be hard-pressed to find a consistent definition from each vendor that hasnt evolved over the past two years. And guess what? Theyre likely to change it several more times in the next three years.

Require adult supervision. No matter how many software defined networking (SDN) slides are shown, network automation is limited to reacting to VM movement. The systems monitor one boundary condition when the system should be monitoring thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of instances (virtual and physical ports/links/switches, applications, policies, etc.). Networking teams should expect continuous babysitting. Theyll be manually configuring the devices and adjusting knobs to figure out the bandwidth allocation, QoS settings, buffering settings, etc.

Are moody. Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV), Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA), Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN), and others are new technologies that have little mileage and can be unpredictable or fail to even work in certain environments. Some customers said they rolled back some of their deployments because the technology was just too temperamental.

Feel Isolated. Many of the data center networking components from a single solution are tightly interwoven with each other; however, few venodors have provided interfaces that enable the network subsystem to share stateful information with another subsystem. The cliques are alive and well within the data center.

Act self-absorbed. Networks will encompass both virtual and physical aspects. This means policies, control, and network services have to go past the last physical edge port. Virtual network functions belong to the network domain, except most solutions dont offer visibility, control, or management of the virtual network. This overly inward focus will likely thwart I&O from realizing true benefits of a next-gen data center.

Courtesy: Forrester Blog Zoom Kobe XIII ZK13

Add new comment