Dell EMC Networking & Big Switch Big Cloud Fabric – Primer

BSN was one of the first partnerships ‘s to bolster and enhance Dell EMC’s SDN portfolio and ecosystem. It is a mature, automation-centric, feature rich solution which defines what a production-grade SDN should feel and behave like.

In their own words – simplified for general consumption – “Big Switch builds SDN software, that runs on Bare Metal Switches, to monitor networks and build Cloud Fabrics.”

The following is an overview of the Cloud Fabric, which is an underlay fabric for Data Center.  I use the following bullet points to anchor and mould my introductory BSN presentations, as need dictates.

Subsequent posts will look into the Cloud Fabric in a lot more detail & depth.

Where does Big Switch fit in the SDN Landscape

  • Brite Box: Safer Approach, integrating Dell EMC’s Global footprint, supply chain, 24×7 support model.
  • Classic SDN Model: As par ONF, SDN is standards based abstraction
    • Separating Control Plane from Data Plane, & Centralizing it.
    • Enabling programmatic provisioning of switches (The ultimate SDN objective is to be able to create programmable networks – ONFBCF in SDN Landscape
  • Northbound API presented by Controller for consumption by orchestration & CMPs. Rest-API based CLI/GUI for operators.
  • Southbound API for Data Plane programming via Open Flow.
  • SwitchLight OS/VX for physical & (KVM based) Virtual Switches.
  • Topology Required: CloS based Spine/Leaf fabric
    • East West Optimized,
    • Path resilience,
    • Predictable latency and jitter.
    • Greatly shrunken blast radius vs. 2 unit Fat-Tree/Multi-tier Core

Dell EMC Networking + BSN Big Cloud Fabric: Features

  • Enterprise/Production-grade SDN:
    • Feature Rich & Mature
    • External/Analyst Validation. Tested (at scale).
      • Featured in the Visionary Quadrant, of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for DC Networking, 2017. 
      • Chaos Monkey Resilience –
        • 42K Simulated End-points,
        • Hadoop + Open Stack,
        • 640+ forced component failures
        • No impact on Application Performance. 
    • Reference Architectures
    • Customer Wins/Public References
    • Brite-box – Dell EMC’s Brand recognition, supply chain, 24×7 support model
  • Automation-Centric: Agile & Flexible. Auto
    • OS install,
    • Upgrade (Hitless)
    • LAG creation (Differentiate ISL vs. Host – Subsequent posts will expand upon this, as the automation with LAGs varies once vSPhere/OpenStack integration comes into the picture)
    • Fabric formation (Zero Touch)
  • One Scale out Fabric (Per DC)
  • One Management Console (Per DC)
  • Hierarchical Control Plane:
    • Primarily, Centralized for operational simplification,
    • Intelligently Distributed for scale and resiliency.
  • Data Plane: Programmatic provisioning.
  • A modular Leaf/Spine PoD that can be easily integrated into existing networks via an L3 interface, and expanded one pod at a time.


BSN Gartner


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s