Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vyatta + Virtualization = new FEP?

For those of you who were not around for the glory days of networking, back when IBM ruled the roost, the term FEP is more than likely a new one. A FEP is a Front End Processor, a device that was built to sit in front of a mainframe to handle peripherals and network connections because the CPU cycles of the mainframe were too valuable to be spent on moving bits. These were also the days when the mainframe has less CPU cycles than your average modern PC, so it made sense to offload networking and other functions. IBM made a killing on sellng FEPs with model numbers such as 3705, 3745 and 3746.

Today, no-one gives a thought to a PC using the Intel x86 architecture being used for both computational and networking functions. As we've shown at Vyatta, this architecture can handle both functions and achieve a very nice price/performance ratio. In fact, in many networking environments, the CPU has many spare computational cycles to burn - and this has led to many people using Vyatta in combination with a virtual machine environment such as VMWare or XenSource.

And, that got me thinking a bit.... Let's imagine that you build a PC with a 3Ghz CPU (or faster), add a couple of 10Gigabit/sec Ethernet cards, load it with a few gigabytes of memory and then run a virtual machine with Vyatta and other networking/telephony software (Asterisk comes to mind as an example). Given the right software, this PC could do a lot of networking functions in a single box (routing, firewall, vpn, call routing, voicemail, SSL termination, load balancing, anti-spam, and so forth) and reduce the processing load on application servers in a given environment.

So - is a PC running many different networking applications on a very fast LAN connection in front of application servers really any different architecturally than a FEP? Probably not - it should be interesting to see if networks do evolve back to the future.


At 6:30 PM, Blogger victorhud said...

When Vyatta will begin with Multiservice Routers?. In that market we need a Open source solution,please not with virtualization because will be expensive, only as Cisco Multiservice routers 28xx, 38xx,

The New FEP already exists, without virtualization, its name Fortinet UTM (router, firewall, Antivirus, antiSpam, IPS, Web Content, load balancing, traffic Shapping, VPN SSL-IPSEC, P2P controller and nearly WAN accelerator).

I reviewed Cobia Program (Stillsecure pseudo open souce project)with Firewall, IPS(Strataguard), Antispam, Web content, VoIP, and i believe that Vyatta can do that, because the router only market its very competitive and Cisco - Juniper have advantage.

The integrated Services (Router, Security, VoIP, Wireless) might be the main task for Vyatta , remember that Cisco already have the UC520-8U-4FXO-K9 (All in one VoIP, switch, wireless, etc).

Ther other task for Vyatta is the certification as Vyatta Certified Network Associate VCNA or VCNP or VCIE and the Vyattas Networking Academies. These certifications are very important for resellers and the customers because are certifiying that the technician have highest level of support.


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