Intel Takes Vyatta to 10Gig
“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is, ‘Never get involved a land war in Asia.’”
- Vizzini, “The Princess Bride”
Intel just published a very exciting Router benchmark using Vyatta that will prove to have historical ramifications. It’s worth stepping back for a moment to put it in the proper context.
By now we all know that open-source is the most wildly disruptive force to ever hit software, and that Linux holds the highest credit for starting it all. But in the jolting earthquakes and aftershocks of this adoption, it’s easy to forget the single greatest reason why Linux achieved such broad initial adoption.
It was the hardware.
Before Linux, Unix was only available on vendor-specific hardware. Sun’s offering was Solaris on their SPARC-based servers, IBM offered AIX on their PowerPC-based servers, HP gave you HP-UX on their PA-RISC-based servers, etc. Everywhere you looked, Unix was trapped in proprietary hardware.
Then along came Linux which gave the world Unix functionality — on the x86 architecture. This had two initial benefits:
1. A radically lower hardware cost model
2. A phenomenal new price/performance curve to ride.
Almost overnight Linux/x86 systems took out departmental installations. As Intel continued its inexorable drive, Linux quickly moved into the datacenter. A lot of people think Linux hurt Microsoft the most; the truth is, Linux cleaned out the Unix server market like Michael Moore at a free buffet. And superior price/performance delivered by x86 servers was the true enabler. As a wise old man once told me, “When it comes to standards-based platforms, never bet against the world’s largest semiconductor company.”
That’s the way it all went down. And now, repeating history, Intel has published an earth-shattering benchmark using Vyatta on a single-CPU Nehalem server. The result? Line-rate 20-Gigabit bi-directional networking performance from a class of servers widely available from Dell, HP, IBM etc — servers that cost less than $5,000. This is precisely the hardware dynamic that powered the adoption of Linux.
So why don’t the existing networking vendors jump on board? It’s simple: It would destroy their business as they know it — they make money by offering small, slow boxes and upselling the customer into large, expensive boxes. That’s why 10-Gigabit in the proprietary network vendor model is a $100,000 expense proposition.
Even the equity researchers are starting to understand just how powerful this open-source / x86 dynamic is in networking. Wells Fargo Securities’ Equity Research Department recently wrote, “Based on independent tests, Vyatta software consistently meets or exceeds comparable closed-source routers in performance and throughput, typically at a much lower cost-basis (due to economic advantages of open source and commodity hardware).”
That’s exactly the kind of thing penned by analysts about Linux/x86 circa 2000. Stay tuned… the revolution is upon us.
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