Big Switch Offers Starter Kits for Easy Software-Defined Networking

Building on top of its existing Big Tap monitoring fabric, Big Switch Networks Inc. recently started shipping its Big Cloud Fabric, designed for enterprises creating new networking pods in existing datacenters.

A networking fabric is the grouping of resources such as controllers or other software, the hardware on which it runs and the complex, any-to-any network connection architecture that hooks them all together. The Big Switch product is a data center networking fabric built with bare-metal switches and software-defined networking (SDN) software.

Today, the company started offering starter kits to help customers get started in SDN with its Big Cloud Fabric.

Two usage scenarios for the kits are envisioned by the hyperscale networking company: lab use and production use. Each contains hardware and software designed to help organizations set up a fully functional leaf/spine network in minutes.

"The starter kits provide the switch hardware and SDN software necessary for projects ranging from small lab [proof of concepts] up to two-rack production deployments ready for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds, Big Data, server/network virtualization, and VDI use cases," the Santa Clara, Calif.-based networking vendor said in a statement.

Big Cloud Fabric components.
[Click on image for larger view.] Big Cloud Fabric Components (source: Big Switch Networks Inc.)

The lab starter kit includes two bare-metal, non-proprietary leaf switches combined with one spine switch and two one-year licenses for Big Cloud Fabric controller virtual appliances. It costs $40,000.

The production kit, priced at $99,000, bundles four leaf switches, two spine switches and two Big Cloud Fabric controller physical appliances with three-year software licenses. Both starter kits use the company's Switch Light OS on the switches and come with support and guidance for implementing projects such as OpenStack clouds, for example.

"While our thought-leading customers are building larger Big Cloud Fabric pods with up to 16 racks and 16,000 virtual machines (VMs), we are seeing tremendous interest from mainstream data center administrators who want to experience operational simplicity but initially on smaller projects," said CEO Douglas Murray. "These starter kits are intended to make mainstream adoption fast and easy."

The Big Cloud Fabric itself consists of: an SDN controller designed for high availability through implementation as a cluster of VMs or hardware appliances; bare-metal leaf and spine switches available from various vendors; and the Switch Light OS. Optional components include the high-performance Switch Light vSwitch, for unified P+V Clos designs and a Neutron OpenStack plug-in or ML2 DriverMechanism for integrating with different OpenStack distributions.

"It's designed for 10G and 40G scale and resiliency, featuring headless mode high availability, zero-touch provisioning, L2/3 forwarding options, application-centric policy and service chaining," Murray in a blog post when the product was announced in July (it shipped just last month). "Management is available via OpenStack, Cloudstack, REST, CLI or GUI."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.