Dell EMC Networking Approach to Software Defined and Open Networking

Software Defined and Open Networking is one of the key drivers and value props for Dell EMC Networking. At a high level, the SDN and ON solution portfolio is divided into the following 3 vectors:

  1. Disaggregated Operating System Solutions: OS  is no longer vertically integrated with the hardware. the switch hardware is merchant silicon with support for e.g. ONIE, and the option for multiple Operating Systems exists for the customer. The OS solutions available on the Dell EMC portfolio undergo stringent validation and enable key usecases for Dell EMC Networking.
  2. Disaggregated Control Plane Solutions: The Control plane is decoupled from the data plane on the switch. Traditional switches integrate the three functional planes – control, data and management – on the box. This disaggregation allows the extraction (out of the box) and centralization (e.g. on a controller appliance/VM) of the control plane. Ergo, the function of determining the best paths & host reachability (via protocols like OSPF, BGP, STP etc.) is no longer  executed on the switch. the data plane, which is concerned with components like MAC and ACL tables, L2/3 switching and QoS marking – is now programmatically provisioned. e.g. Once the controller has extracted/learnt the forwarding tables from its information base (which could be virtual/software based), it will program the forwarding tables into the switches via Open Flow channels. Control Plane is traditionally executed via the CPU (in software), while Data plane executes in dedicated Hardware ASICs.
  3.  Disaggregated Virtual Networking (Overlay) Solutions: This refers to Virtualziation Overlays on top of physical underlay. The underlying fabric is reduced to the role of an IP transport fabric. Encapsulation and Tunnels are synonymous with Overlay virtual Networks. Examples include VMWare NSX, VXLAN, etc. Virtual overlays enable the agility and elasticity which is being demanded by the emerging workloads in the Data center. They enable superior orchestration of rules based actions which allows changes to happen in minutes instead of days. The network is elastic and flexible in response to application demands – as it does not need “Re-wiring” in hardware, of the topology, (Edge/L2/L3) provisioning etc.

The following visual aptly captures the these options

SDN Framework.png



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