Apstra, a startup developing intent-based networking technology, has received a significant boost to its fortunes: Yahoo Japan, one of the largest ISPs in Japan, has deployed version 2.0 of Apstra’s AOS operating system for intent-based networking in its multi-vendor production data centre network.
According to Apstra, by deploying its software, Yahoo Japan has been able to operate and manage, with limited human resources, a large fabric network comprising 90 racks, 16 servers and thousands of nodes that supports its Hadoop clusters.
“Big data and Hadoop are core technologies and strategic initiatives at Yahoo Japan, which analyses vast amounts of data obtained from its portal to constantly improve and develop new innovative Internet and ecommerce offerings,” Apstra said.
Apstra CEO Mansour Karam claimed this represented the first multi-vendor deployment of intent-based networking ever announced.
“Yahoo Japan went into production in November, and while this is not Apstra's first customer, it is the first one we can announce,” he said.
Apstra’s announcement comes at a time when intent-based networking is gathering significant momentum. It was very much the dominant theme of CiscoLive in Melbourne earlier this month.
To put the deal in perspective, Mansour said that in Japan, Yahoo Japan was bigger than Google in search and mail, bigger than Netflix in video, bigger than eBay in auctions and bigger than PayPal in financial transactions.
“By all measures they’re a webscale company; and like other webscales, they’re seeing an explosion in their traffic growth,” Karam said.
Kenya Murakoshi, senior manager, site operations division, System Management Group at Yahoo Japan, said Apstra’s software had streamlined the company's network design, build and operations processes by abstracting the network configuration.
“The Apstra intent-based analytics allow us to specify how we want our network to operate. We tell AOS what we want to happen vs. doing it ourselves.
“Apstra’s telemetry then provides deep insight into the state of our network and alerts us if there are risks like cabling or traffic imbalance issues that need to be addressed.”
He said Apstra had the only multi-vendor offering that matched Yahoo Japan’s needs because Yahoo Japan had deployed network equipment from different vendors including white box products.
Karam said Yahoo Japan had built its data centres using the same state-of-the-art principles hyperscale companies had adopted: “a leaf spine Clos design, which accommodates large amounts of east-west traffic, which is essential to support today’s web applications; multi-hardware vendor strategy, leveraging both established hardware vendors (Arista, Cisco), and open alternatives (Cumulus and OCP hardware); major investments in automation and analytics for efficient scalable operations.”
(The concept of a Clos network was developed by Bell Labs engineer Charles Clos in 1952 as a means of limiting call blocking in the electromechanical switches used in telephone networks. With the development of digital switching Clos networks fell out of favour but re-emerged in the early days of ethernet switches and, more recently in the switching topologies of today’s data centres)
Murakoshi said Apstra’s AOS operating system had allowed Yahoo Japan Corporation to quickly automate, streamline, and replicate the building and operation of its Clos network fabric.
Apstra said Yahoo Japan had evaluated many options including proprietary offerings from large established vendors, and the do-it-yourself approaches taken by hyperscale companies like Google that have developed and deployed their own technologies.
“Yahoo Japan decided that hiring a large team, at a high cost over many years to deliver such a critical undertaking was prohibitive. [It] selected and deployed Apstra’s AOS as the first commercial automation software ever deployed in the company’s network.”