Big Switch – Cloud Fabric: Deployment Options | Dell EMC Networking

Before talking about the components, some quick observations on the Cloud Fabric Deployment considerations.

Often, BSN Cloud Fabric may be the first SDN venture for particular customers. In such cases, potential for a pay-as-you-grow model & small initial footprint would be an attractive  prospect. I usually spend some time discussing  the various options around a lightweight initial setup. A one year subscription model, complementing a pilot would give them the requisite confidence in the solution, with the peace of mind that the Open nature of the switches & subscription based licensing means they can re-purpose/redeploy the hardware with a different underlay/OS, if they are not satisfied in a year’s time. Additionally, it facilitates that pay-as-you-grow model which i will discuss later in this post, where the client can start small and add capacity/bandwidth over time.

That being said, I deem it unlikely anyone would walk away from BCF, once exposed to its strength of automation and intent based provisioning.

The following is the impact the various initial footprints impose.

Deployment Options

For Production deployments, the following observations are useful:

  • The cloud Fabric is logically based on a Multi-Tenant model.
  • Modular, Independent (to scale & upgrade), replicable PoD Design.
  • The Core and Pod design is optimized for rapid adoption. The data center can adopt a strategy of “pay as you grow,” rather than having to invest heavily in capacity because of the difficulty of upgrading later.
  • The pod size for in a specific design is balanced between:
    1. The need to limit the failure domain, (Smaller is Better)
    2. The need to simplify testing and automation, (Smaller is Better)
    3. Providing a large enough pod for future scale & expansion (headroom). (Larger is Better)
  • BCF Scaling limits vary depending on the forwarding mode selected, which include modes optimised for bandwidth and scale, in addition to the default.

Dell EMC Networking Hardware

Big Cloud Fabric Current Support extends to a number of Dell EMC Networking platforms. This is an evolving list, & by no means final. It should only be treated as representative.

  1. 10G 1RU Fixed Form Factor : S4048-ON SFP and Base T
  2. 40G 1RU Fixed Form Factor : S6000-ON and S6010-ON
  3. 100G 1RU Fixed For Factor : Z9100-ON
  4. 100G 2RU Modular : S6100-ON


  • For physical switches (Broadcom chipset), BCF utilizes Switchlight OS – a commercial offering based on Open Networking Linux
  • For virtual switches running on x86 platforms, BCF utilizes Switchlight VX – a Software module for KVM based virtual switches.

BCF Solution Components

  • Controller itself (not HW) is free, you only need switch licenses.
  • Controller could run on HW appliance of VM. VM could be existing. HW can be purchased via HW SKUs.

The following are the different elements to consider when ordering the solution.


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