Avaya Fabric Connect: The Right Foundation for the Software-Defined Data Center


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This paper focuses on a specific real-world use case for SDN - the Software-Defined Data Center. It provides Avaya’s perspective on the characteristics of the Software-Defined Data Center and the value of its Fabric Connect technology as the foundation for this solution. It also talks about how combining Avaya Fabric Connect with open-source cloud orchestration capabilities (that are being defined by OpenStack) can enable a graceful migration to the Software-Defined Data Center.

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Avaya Fabric Connect: The Right Foundation for the Software-Defined Data Center

  1. 1. Avaya Fabric Connect: The Right Foundation for the Software-Defined Data Center This paper focuses on a specific real-world use case for SDN - the Software-Defined Data Center. It provides Avaya’s perspective on the characteristics of the Software-Defined Data Center and the value of its Fabric Connect technology as the foundation for this solution. It also talks about how combining Avaya Fabric Connect with open-source cloud orchestration capabilities (that are being defined by OpenStack) can enable a graceful migration to the Software-Defined Data Center. What is the Software- Defined Data Center? According to Webopedia, Software- Defined Data Center (SDDC) is the phrase used to refer to a Data Center in which all the infrastructure components are virtualized, packaged, and ultimately delivered as a service. Control of resources is automated by software – meaning that hardware configuration is maintained through orchestrated software systems. The SDDC is considered by many to be the next step in the evolution of server virtualization and cloud computing. As components within the Data Center (server, storage, networking) are virtualized, the end game of the SDDC is to combine, customize, and commission resources from the server, storage and networking pools to ensure that applications or services meet the capacity, availability and response time SLAs that an agile business requires. The desire is to deliver much more IT flexibility, efficiency and agility in an organization’s business processes so that IT Operational teams can turn up new applications faster and be much more responsive to their user and or customer base. Evolution to the Software- Defined Data Center Avaya offers solutions that help enterprises and service providers prepare for the transition to the SDDC. Many Data Centers that have deployed server and storage virtualization already are now focusing on network virtualization. This new focus will result in significant benefits by addressing what is currently the most complex portion of turning up and fine- tuning applications: coordination and orchestration with the network. The challenge with today’s networks Today’s server environment is dynamic. New virtual machines can be spun-up in minutes and can migrate between physical hosts on-demand or dynamically. The network remains relatively static however, and a painstaking, error-prone provisioning process to provide network connectivity for applications is too often required. To facilitate the movement of applications between servers, Layer 2 VLAN extensions, both within the Data Center and across the backbone infrastructure between Data Centers, are avaya.com | 1 Today many point to software-defined networking (SDN) as the next big thing in networking. But what is it really? Initially it was closely associated with OpenFlow which provides separation between control and data plane so that each could be independently managed. But now, sparked by new technology options, the definition is broadening with SDN being positioned as a means for delivering increased agility and automation to IT Operational teams.
  2. 2. required to provide a robust and transparent connectivity service. In today’s traditional LAN/WAN design, the extension of VLANs and their propagation within Data Centers can prove challenging. Ensuring all redundant links, in addition to Switches, are properly configured can be a time-consuming operation and can introduce significant risk due to the need to regularly administer configuration of crucial core devices. Furthermore, initiatives such as video, BYOD, and Big Data are putting additional pressure on today’s networks and are causing many IT and network operations teams to reevaluate how they might evolve their networks. Network virtualization provides a more dynamic and agile network environment and - when the right approach is taken - can provide benefits to the network that are as profound as those experienced by applications when server virtualization technology emerged. Not all Network Virtualization Technologies are Equal The concept of an Ethernet Fabric is seen as a critical next-generation network virtualization technology. Ethernet Fabrics allow business to replace obsolete Spanning Tree Protocol-based networks; this increases network efficiency through genuine load-sharing across multiple active links and increased availability by setting up Layer 2 connections between servers in order to facilitate the migration of Virtual Machines. Avaya’s dynamic, real-time, service- based Fabric Connect technology is the most advanced Ethernet Fabric solution on the market today. Going beyond simple Spanning Tree replacement, it delivers the full breadth of desired integrated services including Layer 2 virtualized services, Layer 3 virtualized services (with multiple Virtual Routing and Forwarding instances), and fully optimized routing and integrated IP Multicast support. Applicable to single and multi-tenant Data Centers, Fabric Connect enables businesses to gradually migrate away from a host of legacy technologies (such as STP, OSPF, RIP, and PIM) and to enable all services with a single technology. Powered by edge-only provisioning, Fabric Connect allows new services or changes to services to be implemented and also eliminates the legacy requirement of end-to-end provisioning, including the core, to facilitate much greater ease and agility. It also makes the physical topology of the network irrelevant by allowing any logical topology to be built, whether it is Layer 2, Layer 3, or a combination of the two - to deliver new levels of flexibility for network operators. Eliminating complex protocol overlays not only simplifies the design and ongoing management of the network but can also speed up network re-convergence times dramatically. Customers who have already implemented Avaya’s Fabric Connect are experiencing recovery times of less than 50 milliseconds network- wide for link or node failures which represents a vast improvement over large OSPF routed cores and massive improvement when compared to legacy solutions that relied upon PIM- based Multicast. Vendor lock-in is a common concern for customers who are evaluating new technologies and unfortunately most vendor implementations of an Ethernet Fabric technology are proprietary. Avaya’s Fabric Connect, however, is based on the Shortest Path Bridging protocol – one of the only technologies ever to be standardized jointly by the IEEE and the IETF. Being standards-based means that Avaya Fabric Connect can interoperate with the massive installed-base of existing Ethernet products and thereby allow customers to deploy the technology in areas where they need it the most without having to do a full rip and replace. Avaya Fabric Connect can be, and often is, deployed alongside legacy technologies – running as ‘ships-in-the-night’ – allowing services to be migrated selectively without impact. Avaya is committed to providing an open approach for the foundation of the Software-Defined Data Center and has been actively participating with other vendors to demonstrate Shortest Path Bridging interoperability. An interoperability test was conducted at Interop 2013 in Las Vegas with major industry vendors Alcatel Lucent, HP, and Spirent. 2 | avaya.com Comparison of Ethernet Fabric technologies
  3. 3. avaya.com | 3 Critical to the Software-Defined Data Center is the ability to move Virtual Machines between IP subnets within the same Data Center (and even between geographically dispersed Data Centers) with new levels of ease and flexibility. A key benefit of Avaya Fabric Connect is that it offers unrestricted VM mobility by leveraging a single technology that can extend seamlessly across distance. Virtual Machines can migrate on-demand or dynamically between physical servers located in geographically dispersed Data Centers as easily as between servers located in the same rack. This is achieved without any of the complex protocol stitching commonly practiced by competitive Ethernet Fabric technologies. It is important to consider scale. While the Shortest Path Bridging standard enables scaling up to 16 million unique service instances, competitive Ethernet Fabric technologies are typically based on VLAN virtualization which limits them to the 4096 ceiling. This is clearly not adequate considering that many large Data Center environments are already experiencing VLAN exhaustion and are looking for a network virtualization technology that can solve this. Finally, while many Fabric technologies are designed exclusively as Data Center technologies, Avaya Fabric Connect extends network- wide, providing a single service delivery model end-to-end. Services can be deployed via simple end-point provisioning where servers attach and where users attach. Users can request access to the network and be placed dynamically into the appropriate Layer 2 or Layer 3 virtualized network according to predefined policies. Virtualized networks can be dynamically created and can reflect anything from separating different departments in a traditional multi- tenant environment to separating different types of users (wireless guests, executive access) and isolating traffic types for security and/or regulatory compliance (i.e. banking transactions for PCI DSS compliance, medical imaging devices in a hospital). Network access is completely automated – users and devices are grouped into the appropriate virtualized network based on their credentials. In summary, Avaya Fabric Connect is unique in the market and offers a new, innovative way to build, deploy and manage networks that deliver new levels of simplicity, agility and uptime. The Value of OpenStack Cloud Software For a true Software-Defined Data Center, being able to orchestrate, coordinate, and allocate resources from server, storage and networking pools is critical to ensuring that applications or services meet capacity, availability and response time SLAs required by business. OpenStack is an open source cloud operating system created by NASA and Rackspace that simplifies creation and movement of applications and virtual machines in a public or private cloud. Traditional methods of configuring a network and storage and virtualized servers could take months and involve several complicated independent steps. OpenStack provides a control layer that sits above all the virtualized resources within the Data Center and abstracts administrators and users from the underlying components which allows them to orchestrate those resources as a service through a set of APIs and a common dashboard. From the integrated dashboard, administrators can spin up virtual machines, assign storage, and configure networks through simple point-and-click workflows. When operationalizing new applications, this technology makes operations consistent across multiple technologies and offers increased agility and simplicity, especially in multi-vendor environments where multiple hypervisors, storage technologies, and networking devices may be present. Within OpenStack there are several modules that manage each resource individually. Specifically, the OpenStack ‘Nova’ interface orchestrates virtual machine resources, the ‘Cinder’ and ‘Swift’ interfaces orchestrate block and object storage respectively and ‘Neutron’ interconnects everything by coordinating networking services and appliances. Typically this is brought together under the umbrella of OpenStack’s ‘Horizon’ graphical orchestration interface.
  4. 4. With regard to the networking component of OpenStack, new networks can be created in conjunction with new virtual machines through simple templates. An extension framework exists that allows additional network services such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), load- balancers, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPN) to be deployed and managed. Administration is simplified through the use of graphical views to display network connectivity between service resources. Gaining widespread momentum and support, OpenStack is being adopted by enterprises and large Cloud providers. Users who deploy OpenStack, however, still have traditional pain points from a networking perspective because the current OpenStack networking interface is defined for traditional Ethernet-based networks. Therefore, although some orchestration benefits exist, network operators live under the constraints of traditional Ethernet-based environments. As mentioned previously, these limitations include the fact that network operators can only move virtual machines in the same IP subnet, the number of Virtual LANs is limited to 4096, and VLANs are generally pre-provisioned manually which is time consuming and risky. These limitations do not set the right foundation for the Software-Defined Data Center. Avaya Fabric Connect and OpenStack: The Perfect Partnership By integrating Avaya Fabric Connect into OpenStack’s Neutron project, businesses get the best of both worlds: the breadth of flexibility, scale and services that Avaya Fabric Connect delivers and the common orchestration delivered by OpenStack. With Avaya Fabric Connect, network administrators have the added flexibility to move VMs anywhere in the network – between subnets and even between Data Centers. L2 extensions to facilitate this transfer are set up through simple end- point provisioning, eliminating complex network-wide configuration. And, rather than being limited to the 4096 service instances dictated by traditional Ethernet networks and by competitive Ethernet Fabric implementations, the Shortest Path Bridging standard can scale up to 16 million unique service instances. The abstraction of services from topology enables Avaya Fabric Connect to transform the network into a resource pool that allows arbitrary assignment and deployment of Layer 2 or Layer 3 virtual services, corresponding network addressing and other virtualized networking services (e.g. firewalls, load- balancers, and application delivery controllers). The Software-Defined Data Center transforms operations from manual processes to automated orchestration. Having the right network virtualization foundation is critical for this transformation. Avaya Fabric Connect delivers the industry’s first autonomic capability that seamlessly meshes with OpenStack’s service delivery orchestration to provide the perfect foundation for the Software-Defined Data Center. 4 | avaya.com © 2013 Avaya Inc. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks identified by ®, ™, or SM are registered marks, trademarks, and service marks, respectively, of Avaya Inc. 06/13 • DN72974 | avaya.com About Avaya Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, networking and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. For more information please visit www.avaya.com.