Increasing Your ROI with Optimized Networking Solutions for Multi-Tenant Data Centers

This is a guest post by Charlie Ashton, VP of Marketing for 6WIND.  Dell OEM and 6WIND have partnered together to deliver 6WINDGate, designed to bring users industry leading networking performance at the system level.  We are pleased to share this advanced solution on our blog.

6WindGateTechnology drivers evolving the ecosystem

The holy grail of service providers has always been to provide innovative services and the best possible experience to their customers while minimizing their capital and operational expenses (CAPEX, OPEX) to be as profitable as possible. There are several new technology drivers that are reshaping both the solution architectures being used and the shape of the industry ecosystem that provides the solution building blocks:

  1. Workload Consolidation onto Standard (COTS) Servers – utilizing the latest multi-core hardware and software technology, infrastructure platforms that support applications, control plane, packet and signal processing are moving away from the expensive, proprietary, single application solutions of earlier generations to standard, low-cost servers that can support multiple applications. CAPEX is reduced through lower server costs and network element consolidation and OPEX is reduced via more efficient management, deployment flexibility and lower power consumption.
  2. Acceleration and optimization technology – an increasing availability of technologies that accelerate specific functions such as compression, encryption/decryption and video processing.
  3. Software Defined Networking (SDN) – a dynamic approach to managing network traffic that improves the manageability of networks compared to the current static (hardwired) approach.
  4. Virtualization and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) – increased use of virtualization technology allows for more efficient resource utilization and the newest trend is to extend virtualization technology beyond the server to include networking functions such as switches, gateways and security. NFV technology uses the same standard server approach as workload consolidation (again lowering costs) and the virtualization of these functions improves efficiency and flexibility.

To be somewhat colloquial, we are moving to a world of “software defined everything” running on standard COTS servers.

Transformation considerations

As the industry moves to new, more cost-effective and flexible technologies, the reality is that some of the standard technologies that are in use today were not designed to handle the higher application workloads, increased networking traffic and new types of traffic patterns that are being generated. For example, the Linux standard networking stack is implemented in the kernel and therefore has a significant amount of overhead associated with the processing of each packet – a major performance penalty when you consider the huge volume of traffic generated in the mobile world today.

Another example is in the new types of traffic being generated by the increased use of virtual solutions. The virtual machine (VM) to VM traffic, frequently called East-West traffic, has soared and current hypervisors were not designed to handle this type of workload.

In order to obtain the promised CAPEX and OPEX gains as we transition to these new technologies, we must overcome the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in our standard technology.  We cannot simply throw our current solutions out – they are too widely deployed.

The solution to this problem lies (again) in software – networking software designed specifically for the new, highly virtualized environment using SDN and NFV technologies.

Introducing the value of 6WINDGate

The 6WINDGate™ software from 6WIND solves the critical performance challenges found in SDN and NFV implementations. The following 3 examples illustrate how 6WINDGate addresses these challenges.

  1. Using fast path technology, 6WINDGate bypasses the standard OS protocol stack for all but the most complicated data plane packet processing and delivers a 10X performance improvement over the standard Linux stack. In addition, networking protocols in 6WINDGate are optimized for multi-core platforms and deliver linear scalability across multiple cores.
  2. In a similar manner, 6WINDGate accelerates the virtual switch implementation in a data center, removing the I/O performance constraints imposed by the standard virtual switch architecture. In a recent demonstration, the standard Open vSwitch performance was increased by a factor of 10 and the result was a 3X improvement in data center VM density (reducing CAPEX and OPEX), with no changes required to the OVS code itself.
  3. VM-to-VM bandwidth and scalability is improved by the use of virtual NIC (vNIC) drivers that leverage communications between VMs via the virtual switch. Also, by using the VM2VM driver, direct VM-to-VM communications that bypasses the virtual switch can be used.


Critical networking performance challenges found in standard Operating System protocol stacks, hypervisors and virtual switches must be addressed in order for SDN and NFV architecture to be cost-effective. 6WIND provides data plane software optimized for Intel Architecture-based platforms such as Dell’s PowerEdge servers that solves these problems. Download 6WIND’s Data Center Networking white paper for an in-depth discussion of the use of standard COTS servers and 6WIND technology to improve data center cost effectiveness.

Charlie Ashton

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