Mellanox SN2010 – the Best Hyperconverged Infrastructure Switch

 
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Mellanox’s half-width SN2010 Top-of-Rack (TOR) switch is the best switch for storage and hyperconverged networks. The latest addition to our Spectrum switch family, it is designed for 10/25GbE storage/hyperconverged server clusters with 100GbE uplink connectivity to higher-speed networks. Carrying the signature performance supremacy of Mellanox Spectrum, this 10/25GbE TOR switch provides the ideal combination of performance, rack efficiency, and flexibility to today’s software-defined storage and hyperconverged infrastructure, and presents an easy migration path to next-gen networking.

The migration to software-defined storage (SDS) and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is moving into the mainstream, as the technologies have matured and the adopters ‒ from cloud services providers to small and large enterprises ‒ have benefited from the scalable performance and efficiency as well as the simplicity of deployment and management. As these users became more experienced, they realized that using the right networking to interconnect their SDS and HCI clusters is critical to reap the promised benefits in the most efficient way possible. Not only are they cognizant of using a dedicated network, with predictable and guaranteed performance, to handle storage and HCI data flows, but they have also discerned that using the right switches in the network fabric can significantly impact the efficiency of their storage and hyperconverged infrastructures. The right switches can also simplify and accelerate the migration path of their data centers.

Many users have used SDS and HCI to consolidate their legacy data center silos into a modern data center consisting of racks of server nodes (each node being compute, storage or hyperconverged). With SDS and HCI, existing x86 servers, often equiped with 10GbE network interfaces, continue being used as part of the infrastructure (a great efficiency story in itself by the way). As such, racks with 4-16 x86 server nodes — each with 10GbE links to the network — are commonly seen today.

Before Mellanox introduced its unique half-width TOR switches, the SX1012 and the SN2100, customers had to install a 48+4-port switch for the TOR, with more than half of the switch ports unutilized. To make the situation worse, if TOR switch redundancy was required, which was the case for most enterprise deployments, then the under-utilization was exacerbated, not to mention the waste in rack space, power consumption, and cooling. For example, two typical old-style switches would have 96 10GbE ports + 8 uplink ports, but a typical SDS or HCI cluster  of 16 servers would only use 32, or one third, of those 10GbE ports. In deployments with confined space and stringent power and airflow requirements, the legacy TOR switches simply turned out to be unusable.

With the half-width, 1RU Mellanox switches, the user can put two units side-by-side in a 1RU rack space, achieving needed network connectivities and high availability (HA). The same 16-server cluster would achieve HA using 32 out of 36 ports (of two SN2010s), or near-perfect sizing of the switch to the deployment. The following simple comparison is done with a 2U storage or HCI deployment. The rack efficiency achieved is significant.

Mellanox Ethernet switches are known for their superior performance for data flows in various applications, such as NVMe over fabric, fast replication, and fair bandwidth allocation. As both SDS and HCI run I/O intensive applications using all-flash configurations, high-performance ToR switches become more important. Interested readers can refer to the Tolly Report for more details. Mellanox also makes network orchestration and automation much easier with its end-to-end network management software, NEO™. With RESTful APIs, NEO is extremely simple to be integrated with the SDS or HCI management software and enrich network visibility and manageability. A couple examples are NEO integration with OpenStack Neutron and with Nutanix Prism.

Heeding the needs of SDS and HCI users with 10GbE server connections, Mellanox recently announced the availability of its new half-width switch SN2010, built on Spectrum advantages exclusively for 10GbE SDS and HCI use cases. The SN2010 contains 18x 10/25GbE SFP+ ports for the server connectivity and 4x 40/100GbE QSFP28 ports for uplinks to the main network. In the half-width, 1RU form factor, SN2010 consumes 80 Watts typical (ATIS). SN2010 is future proofed by supporting 25GbE on the same 18 SFP+ ports. When the user is ready to migrate to 25GbE servers, which is already on the horizon, the same SN2010 switches remain viable. Lastly, SN2010 supports both MLNX-OS and Cumulus Linux.

For a storage or HCI rack with up to 18 servers, the SN2010 TOR switches are the perfect fit for 10GbE today and 25GbE in the near future. And for Mellanox, we always believe in “LESS is MORE” as in Less power consumption, Lower latency, Smaller footprint, and Lower price are all ways to bring More value to customers.

An anecdote – if the user does not use all the 18 10GbE ports, he or she can utilize those spare ports to connect 1GbE management interfaces on the servers with the 1GbE transceiver from Mellanox. In this case, extra savings will be achieved by eliminating the need for a dedicated 1GbE management switch. See the chart below for all the connectivity options.

 

Our SDS and HCI partners are obviously taking the note. Here are some of their comments:

“The new 10G optimized Mellanox SN2010 TOR switch completes the Mellanox Spectrum switch line as the efficient and flexible network fabric for modern storage systems,” said Marty Lans senior director & general manager, Storage Connectivity and Interoperability, HPE. “A great follow-on to the SN2100 switches that connects the current 10GbE networked storage to next-gen networks.”

“Nutanix has a distinct vision to transform organizations’ datacenter operations with an Enterprise Cloud OS that reduces hardware footprint and improves scalability and TCO,” said Venugopal Pai, Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Business Development, Nutanix. “The new space-efficient SN2010 further complements the joint solutions our teams will provide for customers together and strengthens our partnership with Mellanox.”

It’s clear that the rapidly growing market for SDS and HCI have created the need for 10/25GbE Ethernet switches optimized for making these deployments both high performance and efficient. The new Mellanox SN2010 meets these needs, making it the perfect switch for hyperconverged infrastructure and the software-defined storage clusters connecting at 10GbE or 25GbE.

Supporting Resources:

jshao@mellanox.com'

About Jeff Shao

Jeff Shao is Director, Ethernet Alliances at Mellanox Technologies. Prior to Mellanox, he held senior product management and marketing roles at LSI (Avago), as well as Micrel, Vitesse Semiconductor & Promise Technology. He holds a MBA from University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of Science & Technology of China.

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