Plexxi Launches SDN Starter Kits for Cloud, Big Data

The startup also is rolling out a kit for agile data centers, with officials saying organizations need to tailor their deployments based on workloads.


Plexxi officials want to make it easier for organizations to adopt software-defined networking.

Plexxi, a startup in the increasingly crowded software-defined networking (SDN) space, is unveiling three starter kits aimed at agile data centers, cloud environments and big data applications. Company officials said the goal of the starter kits is to give businesses and service providers the tools they need to deploy SDN infrastructures that are tailored to their particular workloads, avoiding what they said is a more one-size-fits-all approach that other vendors are taking.

A broad range of networking vendors—from established players like Cisco Systems and Dell to smaller vendors like NEC and Pica8—have released such kits designed to help get organizations on the road to SDN adoption. Plexxi officials are looking to differentiate their offerings by enabling businesses to better customize their infrastructures.

"We're entering a new IT era dominated by data and the application so companies have no choice but to update and tailor their infrastructure to keep up with the demands of mobile, big data and social media," Plexxi CEO Rich Napolitano said in a statement. "Plexxi's three new starter kits allow companies to create a software-defined networking infrastructure quickly and easily and choose an approach that best suits their network."

The starter kit for agile data centers includes two switches, transceivers, cables and control software, according to the company. Also included in the kit for businesses with basic compute, storage and connectivity are integration modules for the OpenStack cloud orchestration platform and VMware's vCenter software. Officials said it is aimed at data centers for both enterprises and public clouds.

For distributed cloud environments, Plexxi is offering a starter kit that includes a redundant, high-performance interconnect across a single pair of fibers that can connect two data centers that are as far as 50 miles apart. The Distributed Cloud Starter Kit also included four switches, transceivers, cables and control software.

The Big Data Pod Starter Kit includes integration modules for Cloudera and Hortonworks Hadoop-based big data analytics technologies. Plexxi officials said the kit is made for businesses that are in the early stages of building out their big data application deployments of up to 436 nodes. It consists of six switches, transceivers, cables and control software.

The starter kits are available immediately, with configuration starting at less than $100,000.

SDN and close cousin network-functions virtualization (NFV) are fueling rapid changes in the networking space. Businesses and service providers are looking to build more flexible, agile, scalable and affordable networks to meet the changing demands brought on by such trends as mobile computing, big data, social networking and the cloud.

SDN and NFV remove the network controller and various tasks—such as firewalls and load balancing—from expensive and complex switches and routers and put them into software that can run on commodity hardware, making the networks more programmable and less expensive. With such network infrastructures, organizations can reduce costs while more quickly delivering services to their employees and customers.

Networking vendors are rapidly growing their SDN and NFV portfolios, and a number of industry standards consortiums have grown up around the technologies. Analysts with Infonetics Research expect companies to move from trials to production with SDN and NFV next year, with momentum continuing in 2016. In a report in July, Infonetics said most respondents to a survey said they were either conducting SDN lab trials or planned to this year, with 45 percent saying they intended to have SDN in live production next year. That number will grow to 87 percent in 2016.

And in good news for Plexxi and other startups, almost a quarter of those surveyed said they would consider non-traditional network vendors for their SDN applications and orchestrations software.

"Software-defined networking spells opportunity for existing and new vendors, and the time to act is now," Cliff Grossner, director analyst for data center, cloud and SDN at Infonetics, said in a statement.

In a report in September, Infonetics analysts found that SDN revenue grew 192 percent between 2012 and 2013, and will grow to $9.5 billion by 2018.