Google Espresso to boost delivery of cloud-based application services

Google Espresso, unveiled at the Open Networking Summit, is a peering architecture that improves the delivery of application services from Google Cloud.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Google has introduced a peering architecture called Espresso that expands the company's software-defined networking infrastructure to the network edge. Espresso significantly improves the performance of applications Google Cloud subscribers are running on the platform as a service.

Google Espresso was introduced this week at the Open Networking Summit, a Silicon Valley conference dedicated to open technology used mostly by cloud and communication service providers. Google uses Espresso in 100 internet access points, called points of presence, scattered worldwide.

As a Peering architecture, Google Espresso sorts the traffic exchanged between Google and internet service providers that carry traffic emanating from the company's search engine and online consumer and enterprise services. Espresso routes 20% of Google traffic, an enormous sum. The company generates a quarter of all traffic on the internet.

Google Espresso helps prioritize application traffic based on latency requirements, according to Google. Examples of software that need unwavering bandwidth to satisfy users include video conferencing and voice over IP.

"Latency-sensitive apps -- perhaps some internet-of-things apps -- can get a fast response, which may be needed to react quickly to changing conditions," said Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass. "Something of the scale and complexity of Google's edge architecture is difficult for most enterprises to create on their own, so this will be a way to get that at no additional cost by being on Google Cloud."

Swapping routers for software-controlled switches

Google has achieved software-based control of peering by swapping its edge routers with switches that are just as fast, but do not carry the same restrictive overhead.  The router complexity left out of the switches includes a huge forwarding table for every destination on the internet and support for Border Gateway Protocol and other complex sets of rules for managing packets, Amin Vahdat, the technical lead for networking at Google, said in an interview with TechTarget.

"We have removed a lot of the complexity -- honestly -- from the Internet routers," Vahdat said. "Internet routers are big, complex, power-hungry, expensive devices."

Replacing routers with switches has let Google manage its peering functions from the same software-based networking controller used to command the rest of Google Cloud. "We've made the infrastructure simpler, and, in the end, we've made it more reliable," Vahdat said.

Extending Google's software-defined networking (SDN) infrastructure to peering makes it possible for Google to tie the networking needs of applications with the services they provide. As a result, Google can "react to application needs and support end-to-end connectivity requirements," Vahdat said.

Espresso is one of four pillars to Google's SDN infrastructure. The others include Jupiter, the in-house interconnect for the data center fabric; Andromeda, the SDN controller and network functions virtualization stack; and B4, the software-defined WAN that connects the company's data centers.

Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud account for 23% of the infrastructure and platform-as-a-service market, according to the Synergy Research Group. Amazon Web Services is the leader, with over 40% of the market.

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