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Nov 12 2018

FUJITSU PSWITCH 4032P: the Right Networking Choice for Hyper-Converged Infrastructures

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Recently I looked at some photographs a customer had taken of his data center some six or seven years ago and was struck by the almost archaic impression: Jam-packed as it was with server racks, UPS cabinets and cables dangling everywhere, it looked more like the depot of a computer museum than an actual functioning installation of any kind. These days, more and more data centers don't appear nearly as crammed, thanks in large part to the arrival of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions such as our PRIMEFLEX packages that wrap up servers, storage and networking gear in a neat bundle and add the required software on top. It's apparent that the rapidly growing market for HCI has created the need for 10 or 40 GbE switches optimized for making these deployments more efficient. With the new PSWITCH series out of the gate, we can now provide all components that are needed for even more successful and expandable PRIMEFLEX deployments.

Our Ethernet switch series consists of three distinct devices, the PSWITCH 2048P (SFP+ ports) and 2048T (BASE-T ports) as well as their bigger brother, the PSWITCH 4032P. The 10 Gbit/s based PSWITCHes 2048 P/T are designed to work as ToR (top-of-rack) switches, while the 40 GbE PSWITCH 4032P can serve as a spine / aggregation module together with the PSWITCH 2048 but also as ToR switch together with corresponding 40 GbE controllers integrated in servers. In this article, we will focus on the PSWITCH 4032P.

Aside from being part of existing and future PRIMEFLEX offerings, the PSWITCH series is also ideally suited for combination with multi-node servers such as PRIMERGY CX400 M4. With their complete loopless design and due to the fact that no switch-dependent configuration is needed, both switches are excellent for consolidation of LAN ports, e.g. in blade transition projects.

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Fig. 1: The 1U low-latency, Layer 2/3, Ethernet switch FUJITSU PSWITCH 4032P provides a rich set of advanced networking features

Specifications
The PSWITCH 4032P is a 1U low-latency, Layer 2/3 Ethernet switch equipped with thirty-two 40GbE QSFP+ uplink ports. Its key component is a Trident II chip from Broadcom (the same that is used in their BCM56850 Series) that provides a switching capacity of 2.56 Tb/s as well as latencies below 1 microsecond for 64-byte data packets, sports 12 MB of buffer memory, and supports jumbo frames and Alternate Store-Forward mode. It even features a small piece of artificial intelligence, in this case an automated address learning function that helps create an information table the switch will use to route each packet to the right device, process or application – in total, it may have to digest up to 32,000 MAC addresses, depending on the number of devices in a given network. The PSWITCH 4032P uses RJ45 serial and 1x10/100/1000Base-T interfaces as management ports, supports any controller that will work with 40G PCI cards, comes equipped with redundant fans and redundant, hot-plug PSUs, and employs LEDs as status and health indicators for the entire system and its various components to enable easy, customer-friendly maintenance.

The robust hardware package is packed with matching software that adds a wide variety of advanced management and security functions for simplified and efficient deployment and administration:

  • The software bundle includes our own network OS, which is based on Broadcom's ICOS product line (aka FASTPATH). This is the place where network administrators go to do the bulk of their work and manage the extensive feature set of the Layer 2/3 switch applications using CLI or other management interfaces (see below).
  • The PSWITCH 4032P supports all regular networking protocols and standards, e.g. IPv4, IPv6 and mixed IPv4/6 installations, along with a multitude of advanced standards from the IEEE 802.1 and 802.3 families, among them LLDP, STP/RSTP/MSTP, PFC, VLAN and VLAN classification, Link Aggregation etc. The list of supported management protocols is equally comprehensive and includes classics such as SNMP and SSH as well as more recent protocols like RMON and OVSDB.
  • Discussing the complete feature list would well extend the scope of this article, therefore we will focus on a selection of highlights. To get an overview and deeper insights, please take a look at our switch product site where you will find links to further documents. These include:

o Auto Discovery – the management software automatically detects, identifies and configures the switch as well as all other networked devices, practically eliminating the risk of errors associated with manual installations
o Access Control Lists (ACL), Class of Service (CoS), Differentiated Services (DiffServ), and Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) – these functions help administrators to ensure a required service quality, adhere to SLAs and improve reliability and security
o Embedded Online/Offline Diagnostics enable administrators to identify the root cause in case of malfunctions
o End Host Mode (EHM) – this feature simplifies the management of specific port settings for connecting to a production network and enables administrators to set up secured ports without having to worry about aspects such as VLAN mapping, load balancing and the like
o The Data Center Virtual Private Network (DCVPN) gateway feature enables network virtualization technologies (VXLAN/NVGRE) to communicate with another network, particularly a VLAN. It offers VXLAN Tunnel End Point (VTEP) functionality for VXLAN and Network Visualization Edge (NVE) functionality for NVGRE tunnels on the switch.

  • The switch can be used in three distinct operating modes: as regular ToR device, as an aggregator that bundles the traffic passing through other Fujitsu Ethernet switches, or as a spine switch in leaf-spine data center topologies. As a result, it's equally well-suited for use in traditional hierarchical and modern fabric networks.

Use Cases
Today's average data centers and IT infrastructures are pretty much unlike their 'ancestors' one might remember from five or ten years ago: Gone are the rows and rows of heavily populated server racks, the dangling cables – in best-case scenarios, even the constant droning of ventilators has given way to silence, or at worst the occasional mild buzz of an energy-efficient fan. What we see instead is a comparatively lightweight assortment of compute nodes that can easily handle the same number of data-heavy workloads as their predecessors and then some. Under the hood, these nodes may either consist of regular general-purpose servers or, increasingly, a new type of building blocks, so-called HCI solutions like Fujitsu's PRIMEFLEX for VMware vSAN or PRIMEFLEX for Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct. However, regardless of individual purpose, these nodes all heavily rely on the power(s) of virtualization and thus, by logical extension, the capabilities of new, powerful network switches. On the one hand, these devices must be strong enough to reliably handle the constant growth in data transfers, VMs and distributed applications that emerge from an ever more virtualized and 'cloudified' IT landscape. On the other, they must support a broad set of robust protection functions that ensure data and network security and safeguard user privacy. Fujitsu's PSWITCH product family offers all required characteristics, but come with a decisive additional benefit: They also provide a very cost-effective solution since we do not charge extra license costs for ports and features. In short, they're worth the investment – take a look at the video below.

Timo Lampe

 

About the Author:

Timo Lampe

Senior Specialist Marketing Manager – Data Center Systems / Server

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