(Original post 2-4-14: Juniper Networks Partner Watch)
At InterVision, we are constantly looking for solutions to improve data center performance for our customers. That’s why we have paid close attention to the evolving landscape of data center fabrics from the leading vendors, and our team of systems engineers tests them in our Technology Lab at every opportunity. A true data center network fabric can interconnect thousands of server, storage and other network ports in a flat, ultra-low latency infrastructure that provides any-to-any connectivity, ensuring that every device is a single hop away from every other device. Fabrics offer scale, performance and high availability. There has been a resurgence of architectures based on Clos architectures, which was nicely summarized in recent article in Network World.
A few months ago, Juniper introduced the QFX5100 Ethernet Switch and the Virtual Chassis Fabric (VCF) architecture. With the VCF software slated to start shipping soon, I’d like to explain why this new architecture will resonate well with our enterprise customers and is a smart strategic move for Juniper. VCF is an excellent complement to Juniper’s other fabric architectures, Virtual Chassis and QFabric.
Although not a true Clos data center topology, Juniper’s Virtual Chassis architecture simplifies switch management. With Virtual Chassis, up to 10 interconnected switches can be managed and operated as a single, logical device with a single IP address. Virtual Chassis is a feature that is very popular with our Juniper customers. InterVision has configured Virtual Chassis on thousands of Juniper EX switches over the years, and this feature has proven itself to be an easier, more flexible, and more cost-effective approach for certain data center architectures.
QFabric is an industrial-strength fabric architecture that is highly scalable and performed well in the testing we have done in our lab. QFabric requires a significant investment in hardware and services, and is better suited for customers who need the flexibility to be able to transition from a medium to a very large data center deployment.
Virtual Chassis Fabric blends some of the best capabilities of Virtual Chassis and QFabric. VCF is a 1G/10G/40G optimized fabric that currently scales to 768 10G ports by combining Juniper QFX5100, QFX3500, QFX3600 and EX4300 switches into a single logical switch. I’m impressed with the plug-and-play and operational simplicity with VCF—switches in a factory default state can join the fabric without any manual configuration. Although the maximum number of switches that can be deployed in a spine-and-leaf configuration is 20, this is still an excellent architecture for customers in small to medium-sized data centers that want a flexible, high performance top-of-rack solution.
We just received a shipment of QFX5100 and EX4300 switches in our lab, and our engineering team is eager to install and test VCF. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to arrange a demonstration.