HP Discover is happening this week and have three announcements
that I’m summarising here. They are Virtual Cloud Network (VCN), FlexFabric 7900 switch and a supporting package of consulting to implement cloud in your organisation.
Virtual Cloud Networking
Virtual Cloud Networking (VCN) is the HP networking element stack for OpenStack. It will be a key element of HP Helion, the commercial OpenStack distro from HP. HP continues to expand it’s commitment to OpenStack with Helion transforming into public and private option. VCN uses VAN to handle the network control functions so you can consider VCN as an SDN app. OpenStack has reasonably poor networking and for HP Helion to be successful it needs to use VAN SDN components and the VCN is that element. Since VAN SDN platform is well established it seems reasonable to be positive about this move.
Like other Cloud & SDN networking strategies, VCN goes beyond simple overlay networking to provide full stack integration for cloud orchestration. I haven’t seen a demo but I would consider this to be somewhat competitive with Cisco ACI strategy. Like Cisco, this strategy will for customers who already own and use HP switches which have been SDN ready for some time.
FlexFabric 7900 Series
A hardware announcement is a rare thing these days but HP has announced Flexfabric 7900 . I would broadly compare it to the Cisco Nexus 6000 family or Dell Z9500 in terms of 40G / 100G
There are some differentiators.
Midplane Design switching is on the line cards and all the other benefits of using mid-plane architecture accrue.
Broadcom Arad Chipsets – The Flexfabric 7900 uses the next generation Broadcom Arad chipset. I can’t find anything to tell me how the Arad is different to the Trident2 and Broadcom doesn’t let vendors talk about their product so who knows whether these are upgrades or downgraded silicon. Either way, it uses merchant silicon and this means that the product focus has been on features not basic functions. The switch runs ComWare including IRF and others.
Virtual Output Queues The Broadcom chipsets often have limited buffer capacity which can have performance impacts. Most larger vendors have workarounds and HP has implemented VOQs to improve the performance to line rate.
One of the more interesting aspects is that HP has developed an business unit delivering professional services around cloud implementation. This isn’t new since Cisco has a flexible services packet in InterCloud and Flexpod, VCE has their one size fits all package and startups like Nutanix are in the mid-market.
The potential difference here is HP is offering an framework and methodology that is more like a management consultancy. There are many companies who are struggling to switch to the cloud and this type of service is attractive.
This service is important because Cisco is reaching into this market with consulting methodologies through InterCloud or marketing packages like FlexPod. HP is one of the few vendors with an end-to-end portfolio for the data centre and this could be strongly leveraged with the right approach.
The success of converged infrastructure is the services package that goes with the deployment. I often consider this type of sale as “comfort package” where end-to-end ownership appears to devolve responsibility to a third party. Puts HP Cloud infrastructure on a better footing to compete with IBM and other integrators.
The EtherealMind View
HP continues to show signs of convergence between the business units. The stronger ties between servers / network / storage bode well for customers who want to certainty of a single supplier.
Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic
- Briefing: Corsa Technology (12th June 2014)
- Briefing: HP Helion, Virtual Cloud Networking, FlexFabric 7900, SDN and OpenStack at HP Discover (10th June 2014)