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Force10 Networks: Rising to the Challenges of Cloud Computing Networks

A Neovise Vendor Perspective Report

Executive Summary
Force10 Networks, Inc. delivers high performance network solutions for datacenter, service provider and enterprise customers who have critical business dependencies on their networks. The companys offerings are designed to deliver new economics by virtualizing and automating Ethernet networks. Force10s high density and resilient Ethernet switching and routing products increase network availability, agility and efficiency while reducing power and cooling costs. Those delivering cloud computing services both private IT organizations and public service providers encounter each of these challenges when designing and building underlying cloud networks. Cloud computing providers also have a number of other challenges related to the unique characteristics of cloud computing technology Neovise believes Force10 and supporting business models. These include higher requirements Networks should be considered around cost and efficiency, partitioning of multi-tenant resources, by any organization delivering phased investments, maintaining performance during traffic spikes, large scale or high performance control and automation, and more. Over the last several months and cloud computing services. even earlier, Force10 has announced a number of activities and capabilities that help address many of these needs. Based on the companys value proposition and product capabilities, Neovise believes Force10 Networks should be considered by any organization delivering large scale or high performance cloud computing services.

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One of the most popular service models for cloud computing is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Cloud computing IaaS enables the consumer whether a technical user, IT staff member or software tool to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources. The consumer is then able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not directly manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly select networking components (e.g., firewalls, load balancers). Cloud computing offers a number of benefits including each of the following: Cost and Efficiency For many cloud service providers, the name of the game is efficiency in order to drive low costs. They focus on efficiency across investments, operations and support. Then they pass the low prices on to their customers. Pricing Most IaaS providers offer pay as you go pricing based on actual resource utilization. Specific cloud computing services are often priced based on high level attributes such as network bandwidth, storage capacity or CPU consumption. Purchase Models and Accounting Cloud service providers dont sell assets, they sell services. This subtle point leads to some important budget and accounting differences. Expenditures on IaaS come from capital expense (CAPEX) budgets, while investments in servers and routers come from operational expense (OPEX) budgets. Depending on rates of consumption and other factors, buyers of IaaS benefit from lower total infrastructure costs, smoother cash flow, better alignment of expenses with revenue and lower financial risk. Scale and Reach Unpredictable events can cause large spikes in computing resources which demand more than a single companys infrastructure can deliver. Having access to additional capacity on demand, possibly from multiple service providers, can make the difference. Access to datacenters in different geographic or political regions can also provide redundancy and speed disaster recovery. Flexibility and Agility Whether caused by new technology, competitive forces, economic disruptions or others, surviving change requires the ability to quickly adapt to new realities. Cloud computing can help organizations improve their flexibility and agility so they have more choices in the way they respond to change. Transfer of Responsibility Transfer of responsibility is the essence of a service. The service consumer is not just paying the service provider to deliver a service. The service consumer depends on the service provider to take responsibility for all the associated costs and risks of delivering the service. This way the service consumer is better able to focus on other core capabilities.

Of course it is not always easy for service providers to design and deploy infrastructures capable of delivering reliable, secure and cost effective IaaS.

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The network is clearly a critical, foundational element of the cloud computing infrastructure. Based on interviews with more than 20 different cloud computing service providers, Neovise has also found that the network is often the most challenging component. Some of the specific network challenges can be related to the unique characteristics of IaaS: Cost and Efficiency This is a pervasive challenge among service providers who must continually eliminate wasted activity and expense. Just as with servers, network equipment must be chosen to reduce the costs of space, power and cooling. Pricing In order to offer pay per use pricing, cloud providers must support multi-tenancy and partitioning of resources. This goes beyond VLAN capabilities to include allocating ports based on performance requirements or service commitments. Purchase Models and Accounting While buyers of IaaS purchase services instead of assets, cloud providers still must purchase assets. To smooth cash flow, cloud providers need to invest in network equipment that can expand as they do. Scale and Reach Cloud providers need to handle traffic spikes for some customers while not impacting others. They need a range of equipment that works in the datacenter, between datacenters and to customer locations. Flexibility and Agility With elastic applications and moving virtual machines, cloud computing produces some of the most rapidly changing IT environments. Cloud providers need the highest levels of network control and automation to adapt in real time. Transfer of Responsibility Cloud providers take on huge responsibility for delivering services that businesses depend on for success and even survival. They must use equipment that increases network reliability, availability and performance to the highest levels.

Those delivering cloud services want to know whether and how network equipment vendors are addressing these challenges.

Force10 Networks
Over the last several months and even earlier, Force10 has announced a number of activities and capabilities that help address many of these needs. Several of these announcements are briefly summarized here: March 22, 2010 - Force10 Networks unveils its Open Automation Initiative, aiming to transform data center infrastructure into a streamlined, efficient and policy-driven cloud computing fabric that responds in real-time to changing application and service demands. March 1, 2010 - Force10 announced the availability of a new line-card for its ExaScale virtualized core switch / router platform, setting a new benchmark for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) port density.

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February 24, 2010 Major shifts in networking industry prompt Force10 to offer a channel throwdown to HP resellers. Force10 deploys new program to beat the price of a fully configured Cisco 6500 chassis switch, giving customers an alternative to Cisco. December 8, 2009 - Force10 introduces flexible new ExaScaleTM line cards to meet emerging application needs with its latest Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet line cards incorporating flexible pluggable transceiver modules. December 7, 2009 Force10 delivers Ethernet-optimized platform for MPLS core networks by adding MPLS capability on ExaScale switch/router line enables network owners to leverage Ethernet economics to build cost-effective next-generation network cores that support evergrowing bandwidth needs. November 16, 2009 Force10 and AFORE sign global reseller agreement to drive cloud networking initiatives, and offer a combined solution to virtualize physical boundaries in multisite data center environments.

More announcements as well as details of the above announcements can be found on the Force10 website here:

Neovise Perspective
New technology developments and competitive forces are always at work, shaping the structure of the IT industry. Products and even entire companies with the weakest value propositions are often eliminated to make room for something better. Force10 Networks is on a mission to provide something better in the Ethernet network segment, and has already had a large measure of success. With high visibility customers in more than 60 countries worldwide including eHarmony, NYSE Euronext, Sega, Yahoo!, Novartis and CERN the company has proven its core value proposition: the ability to deliver new economics by virtualizing and automating Ethernet networks. In the context of cloud computing, there are still more interesting thoughts to consider. Cloud computing, including IaaS, depends greatly on multi-tenancy which is the ability for multiple independent applications and / or customers to share a common set of physical resources at the same time. In many ways server virtualization has been ahead of other forms of virtualization, especially within cloud computing It has been left to innovators like environments. So it has been left to innovators like Force10 Networks Force10 Networks to improve the to improve the virtualization and multi-tenant capabilities of the cloud virtualization and multi-tenant network. Without the ability to virtualize, control and automate cloud capabilities of the cloud network. computing simply could not keep up with customer requirements. Most of the Force10 announcements noted above are not exclusively focused on cloud computing. Yet the capabilities covered there do in fact improve cloud networks. More importantly, those capabilities address each of the cloud network challenges discussed earlier: unmatched port density leaving more chassis space available for future growth; resiliency and availability to meet cloud provider responsibilities; reduced power and cooling costs; high performance hardware architectures and line-

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rate throughput for scale and performance; modularity for phased investments; end-to-end solutions extending from the server and storage edge, to the network core and into the cloud to address the full customer experience; multi-service transport and access solutions, which diverse service providers deploy to support the delivery of a wide range of Ethernet/IP, SONET/SDH and TDM services in both metro and access networks; control and automation to improve flexibility and agility; and many, many more. Those who know Force10 already look to the company for high-performance, virtualized, automated Ethernet solutions. They also need to know that Force10 is very well matched to the unique challenges of cloud computing networks. Based on the companys value proposition and product capabilities, Neovise believes Force10 Networks should be considered by any organization delivering large scale or high performance cloud computing services.

2010 Neovise, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About Neovise Neovise delivers essential knowledge and guidance to key members of the IT community including IT leaders, IT staff, business executives, technology vendors, systems integrators, and service providers. While each of these roles has a separate focus, they all require value added information and advice in order to formulate winning strategies and make optimal decisions. Based on decades of industry experience and ongoing market analysis, we are your trusted, independent source of Business TM Driven IT Insight . For more information, visit

2010 Neovise, LLC. All Rights Reserved.