The Software-Defined Data Center: Creating DC-as-a-Service


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The challenge facing many businesses today is how to move from an essentially physical environment to one that is highly virtualized and that enables agile, flexible service orchestration while maintaining and enhancing robust, always-on service availability.

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The Software-Defined Data Center: Creating DC-as-a-Service

  1. 1. The challenge facing many businesses today is how to move from an essentially physical environment to one that is highly virtualized and that enables agile, flexible service orchestration while maintaining and enhancing robust, always-on service availability. Rise of the Virtual Machines Traditionally, applications were monolithic and were delivered via monolithic platforms in a series of physical provisioning activities including: procurement and implementation of an actual server and physical network connections, installation of operating system and application software, initialization of physically attached disk subsystems and deployment, connection and configuration of firewall and load-balancing appliances. If this all sounds tiresome and slow, that’s because it is. These activities can consume weeks, even months. In addition to poor time to service and a clear lack of agility are the high cost of dedicated hardware and the low level of efficiency it delivers. Rarely achieved, effective dimensioning of actual hardware components so that they match application requirements is something of a black art. And then there is the question of life cycle scale; scaling up or down in an overwhelmingly physical environment is difficult, costly, and it opens the door to all the risks associated with human-error-prone manual configuration. As applications move from the monolithic model to a composite architecture with elements dispersed across multiple computing platforms, a corresponding evolution is taking place in compute and storage solutions. The increasing sophistication of server virtualization solutions (referred to generically as the hypervisor) along with ever more powerful multi-core x86 compute hardware are delivering a versatile, powerful, robust solution that can support multiple virtual machines with each machine offering tenanted hosting to unique instances of operating system and application software. At a time of dramatic change in the ways that compute and storage are dimensioned, implemented, and provisioned in the Data Center, the dynamic, real-time power of virtual machines is being curtailed by the coordination and configuration requirement of the network. | 1 The Software-Defined Data Center: Creating DC-as-a-Service Table of Contents Rise of the Virtual Machines.... 1 The Software-Defined Data Center strikes back.......... 2 Lifecycle of Transient Services.......................4 Never send a human to do a machine’s job.....................4 Fabric Connect: Avaya’s Software-Definable Network Fabric............................ 5 A new hope................................... 5
  2. 2. | 2 Avaya addressed this gap with the introduction of its Fabric Connect technology. A crucial element of Avaya’s Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) strategy for enabling next-generation networking, Fabric Connect empowers agile service delivery by optimizing the way that networks are deployed, implemented, operated, and maintained. Liberated from topology constraints, Fabric Connect supports versatile placement of networking components and interconnections, and sets a new standard for service flexibility. Fabric Connect features an edge-only provisioning model, empowering service activation without time-consuming or service-effecting change control thanks to the abstraction of user services from the network core. This ensures full compartmentalization of the failure domain and therefore the risk. The business benefit is pronounced, with service additions and changes enacted in real-time. Conceptually inserting a ‘virtual Ethernet’ between physical topology and network service layers, Fabric Connect empowers flexible end-to-end connectivity. Abstracting the services from the constraints and limitation of the traditional two-dimensional design model, that of protocol-applied-to-physical, liberates the network and empowers a radical shift in network design and service delivery. At Layer 2, the predominate, although not exclusive requirement within the Data Center, VLANs (or unique hosts) are simply mapped to the required ‘Service ID’; this occurs only at the Fabric Connect edge, reducing time-to-service and the burden and error-prone requirement of end-to-end, device-by-device, link-by-link configuration. And because the underlying technology is natively extensible, Fabric Connect integrates support for Layer 3 in the same way; VRFs are mapped to appropriate Service IDs and end-to-end connectivity is delivered immediately. Indeed, Avaya is able to optimize the provision of Layer 3 routing functionality and distribute multiple mutually cooperating gateways throughout the Fabric, as and where these are most effective. This is particularly relevant in a distributed, physically dispersed Data Center model. With the availability of the elements required for a truly end-to-end solution, highly virtualized compute and storage, and – for the first time – a networking infrastructure that features real-time configuration propagation, all that’s needed to deliver an autonomic solution for the Data Center is a common orchestration framework. The Software-Defined Data Center strikes back Having embraced server virtualization as a strategy for the long-term and now having a network that supports the clear and quantifiable abstraction of services from infrastructure (or, control plane from data plane, if you will) business can move forward and create solutions that actually deliver on the promises of consolidation: agility, performance, resilience, efficiency, and automation.
  3. 3. | 3 The breakthrough capability of integrating the many and varied components of service delivery combined with their universal orchestration is central to the value proposition of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). When activating a new service or modifying an existing one, the traditional approach required considerable planning, time consuming coordination and service- affecting, error-prone configuration – all of which had a negative impact on agility and time to service. The SDDC changes the game fundamentally. By totally transforming the relationships between service components (from that of silos to that of peers) and by inserting an intelligent real-time middleware, it enables delivery of a single operational event that utilizes a single administrative interface. And, leveraging the holistic abstraction of functionality from the underlying infrastructure, multiple processes are coordinated automatically. All foundational components remain. Obviously we still provision virtual machines, server adapters, storage partitions, network appliances, and interconnect them appropriately. What’s changed is that now we make obsolete the burden of a series of independent and vaguely associated provisioning tasks. Orchestration becomes integrated and seamless and the core element that enables this is the OpenStack open source cloud operating system. OpenStack’s modular, project-based approach ensures that all aspects of service activation and delivery are available through a series of integrated interfaces. For example, the OpenStack ‘Nova’ interface orchestrates virtual machine resources, the ‘Cinder’ and ‘Swift’ interfaces orchestrate block and object storage respectively and ‘Quantum’ interconnects everything by coordinating network connectivity, services, and appliances. Typically these actions are brought together under the umbrella of OpenStack’s ‘Horizon’ graphical orchestration interface although it’s also probable that major infrastructure players will wish to express themselves by integrating a similar capability into their own platforms. Regardless of the ultimate flavor, this orchestration platform provides key functionality: one end-to-end view of the service, one execution engine synchronizing activity, and one point of reference for lifecycle administration. Individual business applications are visualized in the graphical environment; components are dragged and dropped together to form the end-to-end solution and provisioning is initiated via a single user interaction. Enhancing existing proven infrastructure components with the incremental addition of an OpenStack capability significantly reduces the costs and risks associated with a transition to the SDDC. The open sourced framework delivers those benefits usually associated with proprietary solutions – namely high levels of integration and functionality – in addition to the cost-competitiveness and best-of-breed promises of multi-vendor sourcing. Operators can chose their own level of automation and extend this by simply leveraging incremental advances in OpenStack interface functionality, introducing additional OpenStack-compliant products to the solution or even developing custom- built, mission-specific OpenStack capabilities. Use-Case Example: A financial services clearing house that provides hosted IT services for hundreds of regional banking organizations that support hundreds of thousands of employees and millions of customers. Coming from a legacy position that relied upon connecting together physical components, the ability to scale and react was always limited but, in a time when server deployment took weeks of planning and provisioning, the gap in coordination with network and storage meant little. Now, in the era when virtual machines can be spun-up from bare metal within minutes, the status quo could not stand. In their next-generation Data Center, all constituent components that form an ‘application’ are drawn dynamically from resource pools then combined, optimized, and operationalized in real time and managed from a single pane-of-glass. This is progress defined.
  4. 4. | 4 Never send a human to do a machine’s job The network must be prepared to take on a new and more pivotal role, one that necessitates a far higher degree of intelligence, integration, and automation than ever imagined. In a service model that may operationalize for a few days or hours, the network’s traditional change implementation methodology – that required weeks or months – simply would not work. This is where Avaya’s dynamic, real-time, service-orientated Fabric Connect technology comes into its own. Based on the Shortest Path Bridging protocol jointly standardized by the IEEE and the IETF, Fabric Connect delivers the industry’s most software- definable networking capability. Empowered by edge-only provisioning, Fabric Connect features seamless orchestration, a full breadth of integrated services – Layer 2, Layer 3, and IP Multicast – and is natively architected for multi-tenant operations. Focusing solely on the interconnectivity required for highly virtualized application services, it quickly becomes obvious that Fabric Connect possesses all the attributes necessary to facilitate the solution. A relatively new concept, that of ‘virtual wires’, can be dynamically spun-up in order to interconnect any two or more service components -- seamlessly, instantaneously, and automatically. Fabric Connect natively supports a ‘VLAN attach’ method where the Edge node maps an 802.1Q VLAN tag to an 802.1aq Individual Service ID (or I-SID) and, while mapping is conventionally achieved through manual configuration, it can also be orchestrated and automated. A feature of Fabric Connect’s underlying architecture – the Shortest Path Bridging protocol – is high extensibility and Avaya is developing the capability to leverage the 802.1AB standard for Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) to enable end-points (in the SDDC scenario these would be represented by Virtual Switches within the hypervisor infrastructure) to make a standardized LLDP request for the network to auto- provision specific virtual wires (i.e. network connectivity) as an orchestrated function of the service delivery process. In addition to leveraging and enhancing existing VLAN methods, Fabric Connect also supports the seamless integration of VMware’s VXLAN technique (or similar IP Multicast-based overlay technologies) of utilizing Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) join requests in order to map service end-points to network virtual wires. Because Fabric Connect supports a fully integrated IP Multicast capacity without the need for any additional overlay or overhead complexity, Avaya can uniquely empower VXLAN-based orchestration, VLAN- based orchestration, or a hybrid combination of the two. Leveraging proven commodity techniques such as LLDP and IGMP helps ensure that development can be accelerated and deployment free of risk. Policy-based managed access can be delivered using technologies such as the 802.1X Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) and/or RADIUS and confidentiality can be assured using the MD5 message-digest algorithm. Lifecycle of Transient Services The following scenario outlines the flow of orchestration and automation delivered by the Software-Defined Data Center solution. Compare and contrast the single interaction – on a single console – by a single operator with the cross-silo burden of the planning, coordination, and configuration required by today’s disaggregated approach. To support a new or expanding business application, service resources need to be spun-up. 1. Leveraging the SDDC orchestration platform, an Operator selects the appropriate compute, memory, and storage profile from pre-defined standard service options 2. Wizards guide the Operator through the process of combining the necessary service resource components 3. Once the end-to-end service has been graphically created, provisioning can be executed in real-time or scheduled 4. OpenStack interfaces propagate provisioning instructions to the relevant resource controllers, operationalizing individual components 5. As required, temporary virtual wires are established between the virtual machine and software distribution servers. In the case of a bare metal machine, an additional phase would see virtual wires temporarily connect to an OS imaging server 6. The fully imaged virtual machine is spun-up and operationalized 7. Layer 2 and/or Layer 3 virtual wires deliver optimized private and/or shared connectivity between virtual adaptors, storage arrays, end-user networks, and network services and appliances such as Firewalls or ADCs
  5. 5. | 5 In addition to providing this bottom-up mechanism to empower service delivery orchestration to pull network connectivity resources on an as-required basis, Avaya is also delivering a top-down push capability in the form of a ‘Quantum’- enabled SDN Controller. This Controller will seamlessly integrate with northbound OpenStack orchestration platforms and southbound with Avaya Networking platforms. Its role is to deliver incremental networking services such as Layer 3 routing optimization that may not necessarily be on the critical path of service creation and delivery but would enhance specific or generic application performance and robustness. The abstraction of services from topology enables Fabric Connect to transform the network into a resource pool that allows arbitrary assignment and deployment of Layer 2 or Layer 3 virtual wires, the corresponding network addressing, Layer 3 route engines, and other virtualized networking services (e.g. firewalls, load-balancers, and application delivery controllers). Gone is the concept of complex and time-consuming pre-planning and manual provisioning; Fabric Connect delivers the industry’s first autonomic capability that seamlessly meshes with service delivery orchestration. A new hope What businesses seek are solutions that reduce burden and increase agility. Orchestration, automation, abstraction of the network control function from the network infrastructure and integration with feature-rich middleware are the fundamental elements required to meet these business needs. Far from being driven by dumbed-down generic silicon that sports an esoteric programmable interface, the future of software defined networking will gravitate toward those implementations that can deliver the most mainstream business value. It is difficult to visualize the benefit to the enterprise of having to learn how to instruct a networking platform on how to bridge, switch, and route – especially in light of the fact that these particular wheels were invented decades ago. Fabric Connect is part of the VENA framework of next-generation networking solutions and with it Avaya is uniquely positioned to support businesses as they venture on to greater service agility and reduced operational burden. For example, Fabric Connect is based on a fully standardized technology and can interoperate with the massive installed-base of existing Ethernet products, thereby reducing exposure and costs. It can be deployed harmoniously alongside legacy technologies – running as ‘ships-in-the-night’ – and services can be selectively and progressively migrated to avoid any big bang risks. It also fully supports traditional VLAN connectivity attachment techniques in addition to emerging alternatives such as VXLAN – even offering integrated hybrid connectivity between both schemes for maximum flexibility. Fabric Connect: Avaya’s Software- Definable Network Fabric The characteristics that have made Avaya VENA’s Fabric Connect the technology of choice for end-to-end, next- generation networking are the same ones that elevate it to a unique position in terms of the Software-Defined Data Center. Quite simply, no other existing or proposed technology comes close to the levels of abstraction, orchestration, and automation that Fabric Connect is delivering today as more and more businesses implement this genuinely evolutionary technology. Fabric Connect’s checklist of services and functionality shows how different it is: • Layer 2, or VLAN, extensions; ‘L2 Virtual Service Networks’ • Layer 3, or VRF, extensions; ‘L3 Virtual Service Networks’ • Inter-VSN Routing; native interworking of independent VSNs • IP Shortcut Routing; native internetworking of independent end-points • Integrated IP Multicast; seamless coalescence of Unicast and Multicast flows • Abstracted, highly scalable, service-orientated provisioning model • Real-time propagation of provisioning control • Highly extensible TLV-based architecture • Support for VLAN, VXLAN, or hybrid mapping of end-points to virtual wires • Ready integration with third- party orchestration and automation platforms • And, crucially, a readily software-definable architecture
  6. 6. © 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 • DN7296 | 6 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 The Software-Defined Data Center is clearly a significant development in the evolution to next-generation networking and to transforming the operational methodology of the Data Center from manual process to automated orchestration. Because it is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, existing investments and functionality can be preserved and leveraged. Integration between OpenStack’s open middleware and principle components (compute, storage, and network) is a key enabler of this solution. Likewise, the availability of a real-time software-definable and service-orientated networking infrastructure, it could be argued, is a fundamental prerequisite. Without question, this is the powerful technology that Avaya’s Fabric Connect delivers.