Hyperscale networking vendor Big Switch launches in Australia

SDN startup appoints local MD

Big Switch Networks — a US startup that develops software-defined networking technology for data centres that bills itself as a “disruptor of traditional Ethernet switching” — has formally launched its operations in Australia and named Mario Vecchio as managing director of Asia Pacific, based in Melbourne.

The company will sell its software in Australia through global partner Dell and local distributor Newgen System. It also has global partnerships with Palo Alto Networks, Red Hat, VMware, F5 and FireEye, Edgecore Networks and ExtraHop. Edgecore Networks is a subsidiary of Taiwan’s Accton and manufacturers open source software based Ethernet switches for use with Big Switch software. ExtraHop is a developer of application performance monitoring software.

Big Switch CEO Doug Murray said ANZ represented a “tremendous opportunity for Big Switch. “I expect Australia to be a lighthouse for the region in terms of what is possible,” he said.

Murray explained that Big Switch had been formed to make available to enterprises networking technologies similar to those developed by the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon to enable them to create the ‘hyperscale networks’ needed for their operations that would have been almost impossible to support and extremely costly to create using tradition networking hardware, software and management tools.

Murray said: “In the last five years we have not seen much innovation form the traditional networking vendors. What has driven innovation has been the hyperscale companies:Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft started driving a very aggressive push with their own network architectures.

“Our vision is to take the design principles by which a company like Google builds its network and turn that into products for everybody else that is not a hyper scale company.”

He cited analysis undertaken by ACG Research on the network a large US Big Switch customer — whose name he said would be revealed in the near future — that showed five year capex at 30 to 50 per cent less, segmented application development 16x faster, initial setup 8x faster, software upgrades 120x faster and connectivity troubleshooting 12x faster with a Big Switch data centre network compared to a traditional network architecture.

CTO Rob Sherwood said that Big Switch offered two distinct SDN products: Big Cloud Fabric and Big Monitoring Fabric. Big Cloud Fabric replaces the traditional Ethernet switches in a network with commodity hardware centrally managed by Big Switch software.

Big Monitoring Fabric uses a network of commodity Ethernet switches centrally controlled to gather copies of all the traffic in a data centre network and bring it back to a central location for monitoring and analysis.Sherwood revealed that it is being use by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

The CTO said: “There are many companies with products that can take copies of the traffic in your network and tell you a lot about it: if you have viruses, if you have been broken into, if your network is slow.Each of them forms a different part of the solution, but you cannot put them everywhere in your network.

“[With Big Monitoring Fabric] we have an ecosystem with a single point where they can hook up any of these tools and dump network traffic to it, and this provides a level of visibility that has never existed before… Networks are so complicated that nobody really knows what’s going on. Up to now this is a problem that has not been solved.”

Sherwood told Computerworld Australia that the market for such technology was much smaller than the market for Big Cloud Fabric but could be used as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to gain a foothold with customers wary of making a big commitment to replacing their entire data centre network with a radical new architecture.