Some companies I sort of lose track of. It’s the way of the technology business. Those vendors making noise tend to stay on my radar. Companies who stop engaging tend to fall off the edges of my scope.
Pluribus Networks was one of those companies that had fallen off my radar. They brought a networking product with a different outlook on life to market, but then I didn’t hear much about them for a couple of years. I knew their product was interesting and that they had some interesting customers, too. I just lost track of them.
Recently, the Packet Pushers were briefed by Pluribus Networks, an excellent way to rekindle the relationship. As we chatted with these folks, I was reminded of many of their product aspects that appealed to me the first time around. We won’t focus on that today. If you need a refresher, give Packet Pushers Weekly Show 191 a listen, where we had a nerd chat with Pluribus back in 2014.
Pluribus Announces Adaptive Cloud Fabric
On April 25, 2017, Pluribus Networks announced its Adaptive Cloud Fabric. As far as press releases go, this one is a rather thorough description of what the product is all about. Some of what’s discussed will sound familiar to folks who have already been introduced to Pluribus.
Here are a few Adaptive Cloud Fabric highlights if you need a bit of information to put Pluribus back on your own radar.
Distributed, controller-less architecture. That means a Pluribus network operates like a cluster. This is also at least an implied poke at other SDN architectures that rely on a central controller or controller cluster to run the networking software and program the network.
Netvisor. Netvisor is the Pluribus operating system. The company describes it like this: “Pluribus has done for network virtualization what VMware did for server virtualization.” Think about that for a moment. A server hypervisor is a hardware abstraction layer. The hypervisor presents itself as if it were bare metal to virtual machines, scheduling and sharing common physical resources among the virtual workloads.
Pluribus is making a similar claim here—it abstracts away switch hardware, applying a virtual machine model to networking. This means you can have true multi-tenant, secure networks without having to use the normal tools of VLANs and VRFs to get it done. The boundaries are made in virtual machines instead.
Telemetry. Netvisor sees all traffic going to and from the network itself, and is therefore perfectly positioned to gather metrics. That telemetry data can be consumed via an open API or Pluribus’ own Insight Analytics software. In short, you, as an operator, should be able to get to the bottom of an issue on a Pluribus network quickly.
Software emphasis. Back in the day, Pluribus championed a sort of “server switch” that was an x86 compute platform with a high port density switch built into the same chassis. That’s not the sole Pluribus play anymore. Instead, Netvisor can run on whitebox switches. For example, it’s possible to run Netvisor on Dell Open Networking switches.
The View From The Hot Aisle
This is a product that, depending on my software-defined data center integration needs, I would be exploring. There’s some meat here.
Also interesting to me is that Pluribus Networks still has a roadmap. There is more coming. I caught this nugget in the press release I linked to:
Future enhancements will advance the depth of state-based intelligence across the fabric to dynamically compare actual versus desired state and automate corrective actions such as security or traffic policy changes, reroute traffic, and link to other systems to implement dynamic changes to the infrastructure, redefining real-time service assurance.”
That might seem like a bunch of jargon-y words, but in a nutshell, it sounds like Pluribus is going after network intent with state enforcement. Intent-based networking is keenly interesting to me, as I believe it’s a tool that, if properly deployed, will ease network deployments and enforce a stable network infrastructure.
In short, it’s the same old, but yet all new, Pluribus Networks. Nice to have a familiar blip reappear on my radar. I’ll be watching them over 2017 to see what comes next.