Startup PLUMgrid Launches Data Centre SDN Platform

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A startup is offering an easy to use cloud software package that virtualises and automates data centre operations

Software-defined networking provider PLUMgrid is looking to capitalise on the virtualising and automating trend taking place in data centres around the world.

The Sunnyvale, California-based startup on 25 June launched both itself and a new cloud-based  package that does exactly that: It virtualises and automates data centre operations, enabling the creation of on-demand programmable networks it calls virtual domains.

Ease Of Use

PLUMgrid PlatfoServer, Data Centre © Oleksiy Mark Shutterstock 2012rm is based on its own IO Visor, a virtualised IO setup that enables line-of-business users to create, copy and deploy secure multi-tenant virtual networks in less than an hour.

It sounds almost too easy to be true. Old-school network administrators know how difficult doing all this from scratch can be. So for line-of-business managers to be able to set up a network in a few minutes using a drop-down menu, then replicate it and deploy it almost immediately is an amazing advancement from most of the networks now in operation.

But this is what software-defined networking represents: ease of use.

So what exactly comes with the package? Well key components include the following:

  • IO Visor enables the creation of programmable networks. It includes edges and gateways and is deployed on the servers at the edge of the data centre.
  • Director is the control centre that coordinates and manages all platform components and functions.
  • Virtual Domain is a logical and secure container that defines a network environment.
  • Network Functions is a library of network services to configure the desired topologies in virtual domains, for example,  router, switch, DHCP and NAT.
  • Console is a graphical user interface to manage, provision, monitor and troubleshoot virtual domains.
  • SDK is language-based software development kit to enable third-party developers and community to build distributed functions on top of IO Visor technology.

No New Kit

And there is good news for IT buyers, as they don’t have to buy new hardware for this; PLUMgrid Platform runs on standard-based x86 servers. In addition, users can add or remove network services with a few clicks without disrupting network operations.

The sweet spot of PLUMgrid’s market are the enterprises and cloud service providers who specialise in building private and public cloud data centres, but anybody who’s building a cloud system could use it.

“There is a new networking market emerging that is solely in the virtualisation domain,” network analyst Nick Lippis, author of The Lippis Report, told eWEEK.  “PLUMgrid is one of the first in this new market that’s defined by new technology, new vendors, new economics and new requirements. It’s all rooted in business manager’s demand for self-service IT delivery from IT to compete with cloud providers.

“There is a new virtual networking market emerging that will mirror physical networking and in the end will dominate the entire networking space to the point where we just call it networking.”

Existing Infrastructure

Network virtualisation should be interesting to organisations because it does not require a rip and replace of the physical network; instead, it enables organisations to take advantage of existing infrastructure and create overlay networks, Bob Laliberte of Enterprise Strategy Group told eWEEK.

“Given that our research highlights that organisations struggle to roll out new applications quickly enough and most often the network is the roadblock, solutions that can accelerate network provisioning should be worth a look,” Laliberte said. “PLUMGrid leverages a different approach to network virtualisation than many of the other vendors, so it would be important to understand what that it is and how it would benefit a customer’s environment.

SDN holds significant promise to overcome many of the existing challenges faced by network operations teams, and the solutions are rapidly maturing. With any new technology, organisations should evaluate how it will help them solve their specific problem.”

Another area to consider, Laliberte said, is how network virtualisation solutions will work with/integrate with physical networks. “As with any new or developing market, there is a lot of hype and confusion, so enterprise or even service providers need to do their homework,” he said.

PLUMgrid Platform is available now in two editions, Lite and Pro, starting at $1,650 (£1,081) per month. Both editions are available through annual contracts.

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Originally published on eWeek.