Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blueprint: InfiniBand Moves from SuperComputing to Cloud

By: Dr. David Southwell, CVO, Obsidian Strategics

Some technology found inside modern supercomputers may prove to be surprisingly applicable to new data center architectures. To understand how, we must first look at the anatomy of contemporary supercomputers. Classics like the Cray vector supercomputers have long since given way to commodity silicon based designs - the vast majority of supercomputers today are huge clusters of servers lashed together with high-performance networks.  Built for massively parallel large-scale simulations, the application work load is distributed across the server nodes which coordinate via messages passed across their shared communications fabric.  The server nodes usually feature floating point heavy CPUs and GPU-based math accelerators and enjoy large main memories, but they are essentially just Linux servers.

InfiniBand is the Fast Interconnect Fabric for SuperComputing

 Most supercomputers attach their storage to the same communications fabric, as is used for inter-processor communication.  Storage must also be fast and parallel to facilitate large data set loading and also periodic checkpointing to save simulation state in case of a failure.  The interconnect is thus a unified fabric carrying management, compute and storage traffic over a single fiber connection to each node.

Reducing cost per node is a key consideration for most, and budget determines a supercomputer’s performance.  For this reason commodity, standards-based hardware components are preferred.  An open standard called InfiniBand (IB) has been the dominant cluster interconnect since its introduction, with specifications first published by an industry consortium that included Intel, IBM, HP and Microsoft in 1999.

IB is attractive due to features such as extreme scalability, low latency (sub microsecond end-to-end), high bandwidth (100GBits/s per port) and hardware offload, which includes a very powerful feature called RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access).  RDMA allows data to flow “zero copy” from one application’s memory space to that residing on another server at wire speed, without the intervention of the OS, or even the CPU, allowing data movement to scale with memory speeds, not just CPU core speeds (which have stalled). More information on IB can be found here.

InfiniBand Takes on Data Center Scalability and East-West Traffic Challenges

What does InfiniBand have to do with data center design?  The components of good server farm design create a balance of compute, storage and network performance.  Many factors today reveal the shortcomings of the legacy 37-year old TCP/IP Ethernet:

  • Multiple virtual machines are consolidated onto single physical machines via virtualization, which has the effect of further multiplying the network performance requirements per socket and pushing towards supercomputer-class loading levels.  For instance, a TCP/IP stack running over 1Gb Ethernet could require up to 1GHz worth of CPU – overlay 20 such machines on a single node and even many-core CPUs are saturated by the OS before the application sees a single cycle.
  • Many-core processors use billions of transistors to tile tens to hundreds of CPU cores per chip, and server chips are trending strongly in this direction.  It is easy to see that the networking capability must be proportionately and radically scaled up to maintain architectural balance, or the cores will be forever waiting on network I/O.
  • Current data center work flow requirements, which tend to strongly emphasize East-West traffic, require new fabric topologies. Ethernet spanning tree limitations preclude efficient implementations such as “fat tree” featuring aggregated trunks between switches.
  • Rotating storage is being displaced by Solid State Disks (SSDs) – and not just in their early critical applications such as database indexing and metadata storage.  Legacy NAS interconnects that were able to hide behind tens of milliseconds of rotating disk latency are suddenly found to be hampering SSDs and their microsecond-range response times.  SSDs also deliver order of magnitude throughput increases, again stressing older interconnects.
  • Because they minimize network adapters, cables and switches, unified fabrics are highly desirable. They improve a host of system-level metrics such as capital costs, airflow, heat generation, management complexity and the number of channel interfaces per host.  Micro- and Blade-form-factor servers can ill-afford three separate interfaces per node.  Due to its lossy flow control and high latency, TCP/IP Ethernet is not a good match for high performance storage networks.

InfiniBand is in a unique position; it is able to take on all these challenges as well as smooth migration paths – for example, via IPoIB, InfiniBand can carry legacy IP traffic at great speed and while this does not immediately expose all of the protocol’s benefits, it provides a bridge to more efficient implementations that can be rolled out over time.  Furthermore—and contrary to popular misconception—InfiniBand is actually the most cost-effective protocol in terms of $/Gbits/s of any comparable standards-based interconnect technology, and dramatically so if deployed as a unified fabric.

Extending InfiniBand from Local Subnets to Global Distances

It’s true that InfiniBand has plenty of power and scale. It’s also true that an open standard supercomputer interconnect may hold the key to efficient future data center implementations. However, does InfiniBand have what it takes for production deployments?

In the past, InfiniBand implementations were limited to single subnet topologies and lacked security mechanisms such as link encryption. They could only manage very short links between racks by the standard’s precise lossless flow control scheme. However, today’s InfiniBand solutions enable the spaning of global distances over standard optical infrastructure, with strong link encryption and multi-subnet segmentation. Those who make use of the new IB stand to catch the bleeding edge of innovation that the supercomputer world continues to offer.

About the author

Dr. David Southwell co-founded Obsidian Research Corporation. Dr. Southwell was also a founding member of YottaYotta, Inc. in 2000 and served as its director of Hardware Development until 2004. Dr. Southwell worked at British Telecom's Research Laboratory at Martlesham Heath in the UK, participated in several other high technology start-ups, operated a design consultancy business, and taught Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Alberta. Dr. Southwell graduated with honors from the University of York, United Kingdom, in 1990 with a M.Eng. in Electronic Systems Engineering and a Ph.D in Electronics in 1993 and holds a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation. 

About Obsidian Strategics
Obsidian Strategics Inc. is a private Canadian corporation offering enterprise-class, commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices supporting the InfiniBand protocol used in Supercomputer and HPC environments. The Obsidian Longbow™ technology was first developed for use in mission-critical military and intelligence environments that imposed operational requirements new to InfiniBand. http://www.obsidianresearch.com/

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Cisco Connected Analytics Targets the Internet of Everything

Cisco unveiled its Connected Analytics strategy for the Internet of Everything, aiming to deliver near real-time information, predictions and trends based on network traffic.  The company is introducing software packages aligned with vertical industries.The portfolio, which builds on  Cisco's IOx platform,  includes:


  • Connected Analytics for Events: Uses insights from Wi-Fi and device usage reporting to provide immediate visibility. For example, it can be used to evaluate sports fan behavior. 
  • Connected Analytics for Retail: Correlates in-store video camera feeds and Wi-Fi data with existing operational data such as inventory. Retailers can track in-store patterns and use existing video technology to determine, for example, where shoppers are spending more time in the store and which shelves need restocking, information that can immediately be used to improve shoppers' experience and drive better store performance.
  • Connected Analytics for Service Providers: Provides intelligence based on patterns in networks, operations and customer data. End-to-end visibility helps service providers improve network planning and understand infrastructure investments in the context of service usage/adoption, and customer and competitive dynamics.
  • Connected Analytics for IT: Provides business intelligence and insights to help align IT capabilities such as data management and data governance with business objectives. For example, analytics can be applied to align implementation of new IT capabilities such as deploying collaboration technology in new branch offices or by understanding evolving security requirements in real time so organization can mitigate risk by improving cyber security.
  • Connected Analytics for Network Deployment: Analyzes the network for operational efficiencies, resolution of incidents and visibility into network deployment. It allows organizations to detect issues before they happen for proactive problem resolution and to make future strategic decisions on how to drive maximum network stability and performance at the lowest possible cost.
  • Connected Analytics for Mobility: Uses location analytics to analyze wireless networks and provide insights about Cisco Service Provider Wi-Fi solution customers. By learning about Wi-Fi use patterns and adoption, service providers can proactively plan Wi-Fi capacity, improve business operations and uncover potential new revenue opportunities such as how to tailor pricing plans based on customer usage.
  • Connected Analytics for Collaboration: Measures the adoption of collaboration technologies internally so a company can analyze Cisco Collaboration applications. For example, an organization can track how many employees are adopting the collaboration technology, how they are using it and what kind of ROI they are seeing from collaborative selling or how the technology is helping reduce travel costs.
  • Connected Analytics for Contact Center: Provides visibility across an organization's entire call center services to deliver actionable recommendations that help organizations understand their customers, provide better service, and improve customer satisfaction. For example, with this visibility, organizations can make adjustments to ensure that the right calls are routed to the right level of service in a timely manner. 

http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1561096

Intel Unveils its IoT Platform

Intel introduced its end-to-end reference platform for the Internet of Things (IoT), including integrated hardware and software products based on the new platform and new relationships with an expanded ecosystem of system integrators.

"With this platform we are continuing to expand our IoT product family beyond silicon with enhancements to our pre-integrated solutions that make IoT more accessible to solution providers," said Doug Davis, vice president and general manager, Internet of Things Group, Intel. "IoT is a rapidly growing market but faces scalability hurdles. By simplifying the development process and making it easier to deploy new solutions that address market needs, we can help accelerate innovation."

Intel's IoT ecosystem includes Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Capgemini, Dell, HCL, NTT DATA, SAP, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Wipro and others.

The Intel roadmap of integrated hardware and software products includes API management and service creation software, edge-to-cloud connectivity and analytics, intelligent gateways, and a full line of scalable IA processors. Security is fundamental to the roadmap with both dedicated security products and security features embedded into hardware and software products.

The new products from Intel include:

  • Wind River Edge Management System provides cloud connectivity to facilitate device configuration, file transfers, data capture and rules-based data analysis and response. This pre-integrated technology stack enables customers to quickly build industry-specific IoT solutions and integrate disparate enterprise IT systems, utilizing API management. The cloud-based middleware runs from the embedded device up through the cloud to reduce time to market and total cost of ownership.
  • The latest Intel IoT Gateway will integrate the Wind River Edge Management System via an available agent so gateways can be rapidly deployed, provisioned and managed throughout the life cycle of a system to reduce costs and time to market. In addition, the gateway includes performance improvements, support for lower cost memory options and a broader selection of available communication options. Intel IoT Gateways are currently available from seven ODMs with 13 more releasing systems in early 2015.
  • Intel is expanding its cloud analytics support for IoT Developer Kits to include the Intel IoT Gateway series, in addition to Intel Galileo boards and Intel Edison Modules. Cloud analytics enables IoT application developers to detect trends and anomalies in time series at big data scale.
  • McAfee, a part of Intel Security, announced Enhanced Security for Intel IoT Gateways in support of the Intel IoT Platform. 

http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2014/12/09/intel-unifies-and-simplifies-connectivity-security-for-iot

Network Virtualization Outlook for 2015 - Cisco's Kelly Ahuja Responds

How will virtualization transform carrier networks in 2015?

Kelly Ahuja, SVP/GM of Cisco's Service Provider Mobility Business, gives us his one-minute perspective.




Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Boosted for 450 Mbps Peak

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor will add support for LTE Category 9 Carrier Aggregation connectivity, enabling its integrated next generation LTE-Advanced modem to support download speeds of up to 450 Mbps over three 20MHz LTE carriers. This will bethe first Snapdragon processor to support Category 9 Carrier Aggregation.

The newly announced Category 9 support makes the Snapdragon 810 processor the first Qualcomm Technologies premium-tier processor to feature a fully-integrated 64-bit multicore CPU and LTE-Advanced multimode modem to support up to 3x20MHz Category 9 Carrier Aggregation, as well as aggregation across FDD and TDD carriers.

“Qualcomm Technologies continues to be a leader in the mobile industry with commercialization of the world’s leading modem technology, delivering fast and reliable cellular data connectivity solutions. This provides speedy application performance and feature richness across greater coverage areas enabled by LTE Category 9 connectivity,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “With powerful processors like the Snapdragon 810, we look forward to continuing to drive LTE innovation in the high tier to ensure exceptional user experiences as mobile broadband demand grows.”

https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2014/12/11/qualcomm-expands-lte-capabilities-snapdragon-810-add-category-9-carrier

CenturyLink Acquires Cognilytics for Big Data Analytics

CenturyLink has acquired Cognilytics, a provider of advanced predictive analytics and Big Data solutions to mid-sized and large enterprises.

Cognilytics has developed advanced analytics solutions across multiple industries, including financial services, retail, consumer products, health care, oil and gas, manufacturing, high-tech and logistics. The company has expertise in implementing Big Data technologies such as Hadoop and SAP HANA.  Cognilytics is based in San Jose, California.

"We are excited to expand CenturyLink's IT Services, Big Data and predictive analytics capabilities through the addition of Cognilytics," said Glen F. Post, III, chief executive officer and president. "CenturyLink's network, IT services, cloud, managed and Big Data services, combined with Cognilytics' decision sciences and advanced predictive analytics, SAP HANA expertise and Big Data solutions, will enable businesses to accelerate their Big Data adoption and monetize their data assets."

Gary Gauba, who founded Cognilytics and is its chairman and chief executive officer, will become president of CenturyLink Cognilytics and report to Girish Varma, president, global IT services and new market development at CenturyLink.

http://www.centurylinktechnology.com/big-data
http://www.Cognilytics.com

Telenor Group Commits to Huawei for Radio Access Networks

Telenor Group has awarded a five-year contract to Huawei to supply radio access equipment and professional services. The Global Frame Agreement focuses on modernizing existing 2G and 3G networks and further offers Telenor’s subsidiaries 2G, 3G and 4G technologies through Huawei. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Huawei and Telenor have partnered in Radio Access Network technology since 2008.

"We are pleased that Huawei continues to invest and leverage their innovation in mobile technology with Telenor. LTE is a key area of focus for Telenor and with Huawei global experience in building and supplying radio access equipment and professional services, Telenor will continue to bring superior mobile broadband experiences to end users," said Hilde Tonne, EVP and Head of Group Industrial Development, Telenor Group.

http://www.huawei.com

Cloud Foundry Foundation Advances Platform-as-a-Service

A new Cloud Foundry Foundation has been established with the aim of promoting a global standard for open Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).  The effort will be managed as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project and operate under a system of open governance created by a team of open source experts from founding Platinum Members EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP and VMware.

As an open source project, Cloud Foundry is being used in a variety of commercial deployments including Pivotal Cloud Foundry, IBM Bluemix, HP Helion and Canopy Cloud Fabric among others.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is also implementing a new approach to open source development called Dojo. This offers developers a unique “fast track” for commit rights, which often take more than a year to gain in a major project.
Recent technical features and community contributions to the project include:


  • Docker support for Diego (early release available for testing)
  • Ability to FUSE devices in containers
  • Firehose: app logs and Cloud Foundry component metrics stream
  • Expanded build pack support for Go, PHP, Python and more
  • Internationalization and extensibility model for Cloud Foundry CLI
  • BOSH external Cloud Provider Interface (CPI)


Gold members of the Cloud Foundry Foundation include Accenture, ActiveState, BNY Mellon, Capgemini, CenturyLink, Ericsson, GE, Hortonworks, NTT, SAS, Swisscom, and Verizon. Silver members include Akamai, Alpine Data Labs, Altoros, Anchora, Anynines, AppDirect, AppDynamics, Azul Systems, Blue Box, Braintribe, Canonical, Canopy, CloudCredo, Docker, Fujitsu, jFrog, Mimacom, Mendix, MongoDB, Piston Cloud Computing, Produban, Redis Labs, Stark & Wayne, Telus and Toshiba Solutions.

http://www.cloudfoundry.org/

Nokia Security Center Opens in Berlin

Nokia inaugurated an advanced mobile broadband security complex that combines a research laboratory and demo center with conference facilities.

Nokia Security Center in Berlin provides a laboratory equipped with a fully-operational 4G/LTE test network. The facility provides a platform for cooperating with mobile network operators, partners, governments and academic institutes to develop and share security know-how and expertise in how to protect networks against increasing security threats.

“The Nokia Security Center is the vital next stage in our strategy to make mobile broadband security a key differentiator for our company. Nokia is designing all its products with security built-in and is continuously expanding its security portfolio with our own developments as well as with qualified partner products. Our solutions improve the security of our digital society,” stated Marc Rouanne, executive vice president, mobile broadband at Nokia Networks.

http://networks.nokia.com/

Ciena Hits Q4 Revenue of $591.0 million

Ciena reported revenue of $591.0 million for its fiscal fourth quarter of 2014, as compared to $583.4 million for the fourth quarter 2013. For fiscal year 2014, Ciena reported revenue of $2.3 billion, as compared to $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2013.

Ciena's GAAP net loss for the fiscal fourth quarter 2014 was $(30.7) million, or $(0.29) per diluted common share, which compares to a GAAP net loss of $(9.8) million, or $(0.09) per diluted common share, for the fiscal fourth quarter 2013.

“We delivered strong revenue growth and improved profitability in fiscal 2014 as we benefited from a more diversified customer base and the strong alignment of our solutions with the increasing on-demand needs of our customers,” said Gary B. Smith, president and CEO of Ciena. “As we continue to expand Ciena’s role and reach, we are well positioned to drive continued growth and increased profitability in 2015.”

http://www.ciena.com

See also