HP FlexNetwork Architecture


"The convergence of cloud computing and mobile connectivity is changing the way infrastructures are built, applications are developed and information is delivered,” said Bill Veghte, chief strategy officer and executive vice president, Software, HP. “HP Converged Cloud enables enterprises to incorporate a blend of public, private and managed cloud services with their existing IT to create a seamless hybrid environment that rapidly adapts to their changing requirements."

A new dawn of technology

Innovation is driving unprecedented change. Mobility, virtualization, high-definition video, rich-media collaboration tools, and cloud computing are reinventing the way businesses and people work. Enterprises that can harness these innovations will have new tools to drive business advantage and build new opportunities in the global marketplace.

When legacy networks are pushed to the limit, they become fragile, difficult to manage, vulnerable, and expensive to operate. Businesses whose networks are at this breaking point, risk missing the next wave of opportunity.

Application-driven, service-oriented architectures (SOA), and virtualization have banished the client-server model from the data center. Cloud computing, too, makes heavy use of server virtualization, which reshapes data center traffic flows and increases bandwidth demands at the server edge. By 2014, network planners should expect more than 80 percent of traffic in the data center's local area network (LAN) to be between servers.1

These efforts at flexibility can be hampered by legacy data center networks. They cannot provide high enough bandwidth and low enough latency between server connections to support highly mobile virtual workloads.

As business volumes rise, traffic levels are exploding and virtualization has taken root across businesses of all sizes. Today, roughly 20 percent of workloads are virtualized, and Gartner expects that this will hit 50 percent by year-end 2012, and continue to grow beyond this level.2 Traffic within the server rack is expected to grow by 25 times. Steeped in technology at home, business workers have quickly acclimated to a rich-media experience and are using video and interactive collaboration tools.

Benefits of the HP FlexNetwork Architecture

The HP FlexNetwork Architecture delivers five primary benefits:

1. The FlexNetwork Architecture is an open and standards-based solution.

At HP, we believe that proprietary protocols and non-standard protocol implementations limit organizations' freedom to choose, which ultimately restricts business agility and drives up costs.

With an open, standards-based solution, enterprises can migrate their networks from legacy architectures to advanced flexible architectures so they can meet contemporary business challenges, including cloud computing, federated or unified applications, virtual machine mobility, high-performance mobile access, unified communications multimedia, and video. Organizations can choose best-in-class solutions that will meet their business needs. Using open, industry- standard protocol implementations mitigate the risk and cost of change when the network needs to adapt to new business requirements. Using open networks will make it simpler for enterprises to move their applications to public and private cloud services.

2. The FlexNetwork Architecture scales on three dimensions-functionality, connectivity, and capacity.

Long gone are the times when a "small" business meant limited capacity or functionality. Often enough, large organizations have sophisticated needs in connectivity and capacity but require the basics in other parts of their networks. One-size-fits-all solutions really don't fit very well, and enterprises end up paying for functionality they don't need and often don't get the scale they require. HP estimates that the global market wastes over $2.5 billion USD annually on unnecessary aggregation and distribution tiers in their networks, due to constraints imposed by legacy architectures and one-size-fits-all solutions.

In contrast, HP offers network solutions for organizations of any size that scale from the most basic functionality to the most feature-rich; from limited connectivity to multisite large-scale connectivity, and from megabit to terabit capacity.This allows, for instance, operators of the largest networks to use basic functionality to lower costs for the volume of access switches they need,while the operators of smaller networks can use feature-rich functionality to create a competitive advantage. However, businesses can continue to scale up in features, port count, and capacity without sacrificing performance or wasting capital along the way.

3. The FlexNetwork Architecture is secure.

The sophistication of attacks on vulnerabilities within operating systems and applications continues to rise, and one small misstep can result in theft of private corporate data, tarnish the corporate brand, and risk regulatory non-compliance. Enterprises must secure more applications and operating systems with the user and within the data center, campus and branch.

The FlexNetwork Architecture gives organizations a consistent approach to securing all segments of the network-data center, campus, and branch. In the data center, the network security architecture addresses the needs of both physical and virtual compute platforms as well as public and private clouds.

In the campus and branch, the FlexNetwork Architecture delivers both perimeter security and interior protection. Network threats are mitigated at the very point of connectivity with user identity and network access controls. Security is assured from the data center to the edge through deep packet inspection of the network traffic and comprehensive protection of the physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure.

HP network security is based on industry-leading research from HP DVLabs.

HP DVLabs is consistently number one invulnerability discovery as a result of their Zero Day Initiative7 with over 1500 global security researchers providing security intelligence around the clock. HP DVLabs automatically delivers Digital Vaccines, or filters, installed security appliances, without time-consuming human interaction. The HP FlexNetwork virtually eliminates the downtime, disruption, and management of security threats from the user to the data center and cloud.

4. The FlexNetwork Architecture delivers agility.

Let's face it, proprietary protocols and multiple disjointed management tools make networks fragile. Simplifying data center and campus networks from legacy three tiers to optimized one and two-tiered architectures: increases performance and reduces latency, simplifies planning and management, increases scale and functionality, and lowers operational and capital cost. Open standards and service oriented architectures for management and orchestration change the rules as well. The use of standard protocols enable business agility as needs change, allowing IT staff to easily and efficiently make changes in existing networks.

Enterprises using SOA-based management and orchestration tools can unify them and create mash-ups to perform new functions.

Enterprises moving applications to the cloud will find that it is critical to have a network that can accommodate the move in a way that is open, heterogeneous, and federated. It is critical to allow users to securely, efficiently, and seamlessly connect to applications in the cloud, whether they're in remote offices, branch offices, or on the campus.

5. The FlexNetwork Architecture delivers a consistent operating experience.

IT staff can put an end to swivel-chair management, where they are forced to use an array of different tools to manage the entire network. The FlexNetwork Architecture delivers a single pane-of-glass management usable across all modular network building blocks data center, campus, and branch for a common operating environment. IT staff can manage the breadth of HP networking products and protocols, as well as over 2,600 network devices from more than 35 other manufacturers-with the same tool.

As enterprises migrate to HP FlexNetwork solutions, they will have a single control point for both their HP and legacy networks.

1 Gartner, Inc., "Your Data Center Network Is Heading for Traffic Chaos," Bjarne Munch, 27 April 2011.
2 Gartner, Inc., "Emerging Technology Analysis: How Virtual Switches Are Solving Virtualization Issues in the Data Center," Severine Real, 16 November 2010.

FlexNetwork Brochure