Startup Jeda Extends SDN Concept to Storage Networks

The company will show off its first product, the software-based Fabric Network Controller, at Interop next month.

Startup Jeda Networks is looking to leverage software-defined networking capabilities to create less complex high-performance storage networks.

The company is unveiling its first product, the Fabric Network Controller, a software-based offering. The technology is designed to create a more flexible, scalable and dynamic storage network by decoupling the network control plane from the physical network and replacing it with the software-based controller.

The controller becomes a virtual machine that sits in the network, creating an overlay that takes the Ethernet fabric and transforms it into a highly scalable storage networking fabric, according to Jeda Networks officials.

The result is a simpler, easy-to-manage, more agile and less costly storage networking environment, according to Stuart Berman, Jeda founder and CEO.

"The [Fabric Network Controller] enables a new generation of converged storage networks that can be created and removed dynamically, as needed," Berman, former CTO at Emulex, said in a statement. "This virtualizes the way applications connect with storage, bringing with it new levels of agility and scalability to the data center. By finally virtualizing the storage network, Jeda's FNC transforms how storage is networked in the cloud era."

Such trends as cloud computing and big data are generating massive amounts of data and putting a tremendous amount of pressure on storage systems and other parts of the IT infrastructure. Analysts from IDC last year projected that data storage needs will grow 61.4 percent a year through 2015, driving the need to find better ways to link storage systems with other parts of the data center, including servers and networking gear. Networking vendors are starting to roll out solutions designed to enable storage networks to keep up with the demands.

"These trends serve as market drivers with requirements for higher bandwidth, zero downtime coupled with some top care-abouts like multi-protocol storage connectivity, ease of management, fast disaster recovery, low latency at scale, etc," Shashri Kiran, senior director of market management for data center, cloud and open networking at Cisco Systems, wrote in an April 24 post on the company blog.

On the same day that Jeda announced its Fabric Network Controller, networking giant Cisco Systems unveiled two new switches that offer increased bandwidth and improved storage area network (SAN) efficiency. The MDS 9710 Multilayer Director offers three times the bandwith—24 terabits per second—than other competing technologies, supports Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and brings storage connectivity for applications, solid-state drives and cloud-based environments with no impact on IT operations, according to Cisco officials.

Cisco's MDS 9250i Multiserver Fabric Switch brings such storage services as Cisco I/O accelerator and Data Mobility Manager for greater SAN efficiency by performing storage services centrally in the fabric.

For its part, Jeda's Fabric Network Controller supports devices that run FCoE, offering an alternative to Fibre Channel and iSCSI solutions. It can run with myriad 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 40GbE Ethernet switches from various vendors, and—as a software solution—will support switches as the industry moves up to 100GbE.

The controller is installed as a virtual machine for VMware's ESX virtualization technology on any virtualized server that has access to the network. It works with any Ethernet switch qualified by Jeda and any server or storage array that supports FCoE. Through the controller, network administrators can define a storage network overlay.

Jeda officials with demonstrate the technology at Interop 2013 in Las Vegas starting May 6 and the Data Storage Expo in Tokyo starting May 8. The company will offer the Fabric Network Controller through an Early Ship Program in May, with general availability slated for the summer.

Software-defined networks (SDNs) hold the promise of more flexible, scalable and programmable networks by taking network intelligence from expensive, complex switches and routers and putting them into software-based controllers. IDC analysts last year said they expect the SDN market to grow from $360 million this year to $3.7 billion by 2016.

However, in a recent report, officials with SDN startup Plexxi—along with Website SDNCentral and venture capital firm Venture Partners—said they expect the SDN market to grow significantly faster, to $35 billion by 2018.