PLUMgrid Startup Launches New SDN Platform for Data Centers

The startup launches a new software package that virtualizes and automates data center operations so that a non-IT employee can use it.

New-gen data centers in 2013 are about virtualizing and automating every possible process, so it's no wonder why new software-defined networking provider PLUMgrid is all for this trend.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup, which opened for business last year, on June 25 launched a new cloud-based package that does exactly that: It virtualizes and automates data center operations, enabling the creation of on-demand programmable networks it calls "virtual domains."

PLUMgrid Platform is based on its own IO Visor, a virtualized IO setup that enables line-of-business users to create, copy and deploy secure multi-tenant virtual networks in less than one 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.

What's Inside

Key components include:

--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 center.
--Director is the control center 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.

Good news for IT purchasers: You 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.

PLUMgrid's market sweet spots are enterprises and cloud service providers who specialize in building private and public cloud data centers, but anybody who's building a cloud system could use it.

"There is a new networking market emerging that is solely in the virtualization 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."

Requires No 'Rip and Replace'

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

"Given that our research highlights that organizations 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 virtualization 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, organizations should evaluate how it will help them solve their specific problem."

Another area to consider, Laliberte said, is how network virtualization 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 per month. Both editions are available through annual contracts.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...