This article is based on our webinar with Cumulus Networks: Public to Private-Cloud Network Deployment - A Step-by-Step Guide. You can watch the full webinar here: https://www.epsglobal.com/webinar/web5/watch
Open Networking from the outside looking in can be a bit daunting, there's a lot of software vendors and a lot of hardware vendors. EPS Global pulls all that together and make things a little bit easier.
Part I of this blog will cover:
- Introduction to EPS
- Public Cloud and the Associated Challenges
- Initial customer interaction
- Introduction to Cumulus Networks
And Part II, coming soon, will cover:
- Virtual Experience
- PoC to Day 2
- Deployment, Automation, and Monitoring
Introduction to EPS
EPS Global is a value-added distributor headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with 28 global locations. Since 2016, we've been involved in the Open Networking space, leading its adoption across multiple industry verticals and hosting educational conferences, called Datacenter Transformation and monthly webinars. We are global distributors for Edgecore Networks, who are an OEM/ODM switch manufacturer owned by the Accton Group, based in Taiwan. If you've used a switch that's not Cisco, you've more than likely used an Edgecore or Accton Group switch. It became apparent pretty early on in the relationship with Edgecore that the traditional distributor role didn’t apply, because hardware is only one part of a network solution.
Since then, we have built partnerships with all of the Network Operating System (NOS) vendors. We sit at the center of the Open Networking ecosystem, bringing together the hardware and software to provide turnkey solutions for any use case, delivering value and expertise to our customers.
I guess the most important distinction about us as a distributor is that we will not pigeonhole a piece of software into an implementation where it isn’t a good fit and we have the technical expertise to understand the requirement and guide our customers through the process. What this article focuses on specifically is a Data Center Deployment, where Cumulus is the best fit, providing excellent support, and a really good product at that.
We also offer bundles/starter kits for our customers, to try and ease the transition to Open Networking. We can install the Operating System and the license on the switch, and bundle it with interoperable transceivers, add the required cables etc. So basically, a shipment arrives to you, and the switches are ready to slide into a rack, which definitely takes some of the pain out of deployments.
Cloud Computing (AKA Public Cloud)
Here’s a high-level overview of Cloud Computing. The biggest companies in order of market share are: AWS (Amazon Web Services) who own 61% of the market; Microsoft Azure (who are catching up slowly but surely); Google Cloud; VMware Cloud; Oracle; IBM; and Alibaba with about 4% of the market, up from 2% last year.
To relate this to Open Networking, all these players use Bare-Metal and Open Source. It started with Facebook in 2012, and then all these hyperscalers followed suit. Since 2016/2017 the Bare Metal coupled with Open Source software (such as Cumulus) has filtered down into enterprises and SMBs.
The Cloud Computing market last year was worth $206 billion, and it's projected to be about $350 billion by 2023. It's going nowhere.
Software-as-a-Service makes up $100 billion of that figure. Infrastructure as-a-Platform, Business-Process-as-a-Service are around the $30 million mark, and Database-as-a-Service, and the largest growing area by a mile is Container-as-a-Service, that’s Docker and Kubernetes.
These facts and figures come from a company called RightScale, they're a Software-as-a-Service provider, and every year for the past 3 years, they've produced a comprehensive survey, the State of Cloud Computing, where they’ve sent out 150,000 surveys across a wide variety of small to large companies, approx. 50% with over 1,000 employees and the other half under 1,000 employees. The results of that survey show that, in 2019, the average enterprise is using 4 clouds whether it’s AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and/or their own private cloud. But what’s interesting about the 2019 survey is that there was an increase in respondents migrating back from Public Cloud to On-Prem. We will now examine some of the reasons why this is the case.
Public Cloud and the Associated Challenges
Public Cloud Expenditure
The first issue with Cloud Computing is managing cloud spend. All these companies: AWS; Google Cloud; Azure, have great deals for starting off, but then the great upsell begins and you can start to see costs spiralling fairly rapidly, especially if your company is growing. As you move more of your workload to the cloud, costs increase significantly.
Cloud governance is an issue. When companies start small, possibly just doing some Software-as-a-Service, and then grow rapidly, often they have not established the company governance that should be in place. Next thing they find that they've put most of their workload in the cloud and a lot more employees than they started with, and all of a sudden governance is a huge issue.
If your data is being held by a third party, security is always going to be an issue. You don't know where your data has been, where it is physically located, where it's being processed. We've all seen hacked interfaces, APIs etc. Data security is going to be an ongoing issue if you cannot put your hands on it and don't know where it is housed.
There’s a lot of legal stuff in every walk of life. GDPR has put restrictions on what data can be gathered, how it can be used, and for how long it can be stored which has had big implications for nearly every type of business. If you look at the healthcare industry, there's huge regulation in that, the retail industry also has a huge amount of regulation, with regard to payment processing, customer data retention, etc. Compliance can be a massive, and difficult to manage issue for an organization, particularly when your data processing is carried out by numerous 3rd parties, each with their own contract terms.
Lack of resources or expertise
Again, look at 4 clouds as the average number of cloud services used by a single company, but consider that this in fact can often can be up to 8 clouds. You need an expert for each one of those clouds, as the tools are getting more and more complicated as time goes on. Cloud specialists aren't cheap.
Managing multiple clouds
Referring to the previous point, the four-cloud scenario. One cloud service provider has its own specific issues, whether that’s scaling up quickly, or you’ve received a request to be forgotten by a customer whose data is held in the cloud and you need it done now. The next cloud service provider has its own specific issues that are completely different to the first, and so on. Now you’re in the unenviable position of managing 4 sets of unique issues from your cloud providers. See previous point, cloud specialists are not cheap!
When you're moving a new application to the cloud, it's quite straightforward. But if you are trying to migrate an existing application to the cloud it can be problematic. In the RightScale survey, over 50% of respondents said it was considerably more difficult to move an existing application than expected – both in terms of budget and time, it was way more costly and the project ran way over.
Last but definitely not least, performance is an issue. Each one of these cloud companies have had outages over the past few years. If they have an outage, you have an outage. Network downtime or inability to access data is definitely a worry.
So as I said, we've seen customers over the last couple of years moving back to a hybrid-cloud model from a pure public-cloud model, taking some of their infrastructure back from public to on-premises (on-prem), for one or more of the reasons I’ve stated above.
But how do you make that transition?
Setting the Scene
A customer contacts EPS Global, says (s)he has one or several of these issues. The first thing we look at is the software.
We ask: What is it you actually want to do? As a business, what do you need? Is it a Data Center implementation? What are you looking to use a EVPN? Do you need any particular protocols? Do you want to use VXLAN? There’s more, but this article isn’t a game of 20 questions.
We'll take all this into account and then we'll select one open NOS software or two, if there’s more than one option suited to your needs for you to trial. In this article, we're looking specifically at Cumulus for the Data Center. Once we've selected the software, then we look at the hardware.
On the hardware side, again, we've multiple options. There’s Edgecore Networks, Mellanox, Quanta, Delta, Celestica. For your convenience, on our website and on Cumulus’s website, we have hardware compatibility lists (see our Switch Selector Tool). It is easy to view which hardware you can use with the chosen software. We also consider how the software works with the switching ASIC, as different ASICs do different things. In this theoretical example, we choose 25G for the leaf, and 100G the spine, this might be AS7326 from Edgecore with a Trident 3 Chip, and an AS7726 100G with another Trident 3 Chip.
We've now selected our hardware, and our software. Now we commence initial testing in your environment. There’s a couple of ways to do this. Traditionally what I liked to do was to get hardware into people's hands. So we give you maybe 3 boxes, for example 2x 25G switches and 1x 100G switches, so you can simulate a Spine/Leaf topology, and work away on that. But there's now a selection of really good options for proof of concepts that you can run virtually beforehand, or run in parallel. At this point I would bring Cumulus’s Systems Engineers into the equation to help you through your PoC – guidance on setting the markers that will determine whether the PoC is a good fit, defining what those metrics are.
In our next article Neil Simonsen and Pete Crocker from Cumulus are going to give you an overview of Cumulus products and continue our journey in Public to Private-Cloud Deployment – A Step-by-Step Guide covering:
- Virtual Experience
- PoC to Day 2
- Deployment, Automation, and Monitoring
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