Mellanox network adaptors address cloud performance concerns

As demand for cloud computing increases, Mellanox has the network adaptors to serve more users, process more data and meet storage requirements, says Anton Jacobsz, CEO of Networks Unlimited Africa.

Johannesburg, 23 Apr 2019
Read time 4min 20sec
Anton Jacobsz, CEO of Networks Unlimited Africa.
Anton Jacobsz, CEO of Networks Unlimited Africa.

With the adoption of cloud computing set to soar exponentially over the next year, as an increasing number of core business applications are moved off-site^1, so pressure on cloud, network and data centre administrators to provide faster, more reliable and more scalable cloud services will soar.

That's the view of Anton Jacobsz, CEO of Networks Unlimited Africa. He points out that computing resources are only as fast as the slowest link in the information supply chain. Networks Unlimited Africa is a value-added distributor of converged technology, data centre, networking and security technology solutions, and distributes Mellanox's intelligent interconnect solutions throughout the continent.

In its Predictions 2019: Cloud Computing report^2, Forrester Research estimates the global cloud computing market will top $200 billion, representing a growth rate of more than 20%. This exponential trajectory is likely to continue, accompanied by a rise in data volumes which will test cloud performance capability and capacity to the hilt. As Mellanox Technologies notes in its white paper, titled: 'Optimise your Cloud with the Right Network Adaptors', this will result in an ever-increasing load on central processing unit (CPU) utilisation.

According to Jacobsz, overlay network protocols, Open vSwitch (OVS) processing, massive storage access, and other high-performance workloads all require intensive processing which, as Mellanox notes, "wastes expensive CPU cycles, clogs the path to the network and ultimately leaves a lot of bandwidth unutilised".

The result, says Jacobsz, is that the cloud itself becomes inefficient, slow, unreliable and unable to scale to meet the increasing demand.

"What's needed are intelligent, flexible networks that can meet applications and storage requirements, and offload as many networking tasks as possible, in order to free up CPU resources to serve more users and process more data," he explains.

"This can be achieved through the utilisation of smart network adaptors that can deliver three key benefits: high performance, network intelligence and improved scalability."

1. High performance

The growth in demand for cloud services requires more virtual machines (VMs) to deliver more applications and more data to more users. This translates into increasing rates of bandwidth; as much as 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) to optimise cloud efficiency. However, flexible data centres may also require the inclusion of various speed rates that could vary from 25Gbps and 50Gbps to 100Gbps.

"It is no longer the type of connectivity that is important. Clouds today require a range of solutions according to the size of the compute node and the storage servers," Jacobsz explains.

It's with these "need for speed" requirements in mind that Mellanox developed its ConnextX adaptor family (ConnextX-4 and ConnextX-4 Lx). With rates ranging from 10Gbps to 50Gbps and even 100Gbps in the case of the Mellanox ConnectX-4, these devices enable the cloud to grow as needed without the need to replace hardware or software.

2. Network intelligence

Today's data centres need to be able to share the processing workloads between various components rather than expect the CPU to deal with the entire burden alone. This requires intelligent network offloads and advanced acceleration capabilities such as remote direct memory access (RDMA), TCP, overlay networks and storage offloads.

With their ability to parse and understand network overlay protocols including Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN), Network Virtualisation using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE), and Generic Network Virtualisation Encapsulation (GENEVE), Mellanox adaptors can offload their network processing. According to Mellanox, this enables bandwidth, greatly improved VM density, and far better CPU utilisation.

3. Improved scalability

The network layer today plays a significant role in the ability of the cloud to scale as the acceleration of the network can enable an increase in the number of VMs per server, despite the fact that hypervisor or virtual machine monitor (VMM) networking software can seriously impair VM performance. However, the utilisation of networking technologies, such as single root input/output virtualisation (SR-IOR) and OVS, allows for improvement in the performance of even low-latency, high-bandwidth applications when run from VMs.

Mellanox enables direct VM access to the network by enabling SR-IOV, improving the performance of virtual machines. Mellanox technology also allows for improved connectivity on storage access.

"This means cloud administrators can pass on the benefits of the lowest latency and highest bandwidth to users, without wasting any additional load on the CPU," Jacobsz says.

"All this not only translates into improved performance and CPU utilisation, it reduces costs and improves efficiencies. In fact, Mellanox adaptors provide one of the most unique combinations of advantages for cloud deployments, eliminating many of the concerns potential users may have about moving the bulk of their enterprise computing off-site and into the cloud," he concludes.

The link to the Mellanox white paper is available for download.


Networks Unlimited Africa

Networks Unlimited Africa is a value-added distributor, offering the best and latest solutions within the converged technology, data centre, networking and security landscapes. The company distributes best-of-breed products, including Attivo Networks, Cofense, Carbon Black, Fortinet, F5, Hypergrid, Mellanox Technologies, NETSCOUT, NETSCOUT ARBOR, ProLabs, RSA, Rubrik, SevOne, Silver Peak, Thales and Uplogix. The product portfolio provides solutions from the edge to the data centre, and addresses key areas such as cloud networking and integration, WAN optimisation, application performance management, application delivery networking, WiFi-, mobile- and networking security, load balancing, data centre in-a-box, and storage for virtual machines.

Since its formation in 1994, Networks Unlimited Africa has continually adapted to today's progressively competitive and evolving marketplace, and has reaped the benefits by being a leading value-added distributor (VAD) within the Sub-Saharan Africa market.

Editorial contacts
icomm Vivienne Fouche (+27) 082 602 1635
Networks Unlimited Michelle Naidoo (+27) 011 202 8400
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