Extreme looks to one-up Cisco, others in data center

Extreme Networks unveils two switches, architecture for new IT environments.

At Interop this week, Extreme Networks rolled out two switches designed to migrate users from legacy data center infrastructures into cloud computing environments.

LAS VEGAS - At Interop this week, Extreme Networks rolled out two new switches designed to migrate users from legacy data center infrastructures into cloud computing environments. 

Extreme unveiled the BlackDiamond X8 for the data center core, and the Summit X670 for the top of the server rack. Together the switches are the underpinning of Extreme's Open Fabric, a data center switching plan that embraces standards and partnerships to take customers to the cloud.

SLIDESHOW: See the products shown at Interop

The BlackDiamond X8 takes up one-third of a data center rack. It has a switching capacity of over 20Tbps or 1.28Tbps per slot. It can support 768 wire-speed 10G Ethernet ports - which is industry-leading density - and 192 wire-speed 40G Ethernet ports, Extreme says.

Photo of Black Diamond

Port-to-port latency on the X8 is less than 3 microseconds, Extreme says. It consumes 5 watts per 10G port and supports 128,000 virtual machines, the company says. The switch supports a new architecture for Extreme, in that the mid-plane is reserved only for management traffic; business data never crosses the mid-plane. I/O modules connect directly to the switch's fabric modules for increased performance, Extreme says.

The Summit X670 comes in two versions: the X670 and the X670V. The X670 is a 48-port 10G switch while the X670V adds a four-port 40G uplink capability, or another 24 ports of 10G.

Photo of Summit product

Both switches support 128,000 virtual machines, the IEEE's Data Center Bridging standard for lossless Ethernet operation and data and storage integration, and the Multi-System Link Aggregation specification to flatten the Ethernet fabric for high performance, low latency and high resiliency.

Indeed, M-LAG is a key component of Extreme's Open Fabric initiative. Extreme is proposing this method as an alternative, for now, to the IETF's TRILL and the IEEE's Shortest Path Bridging for flattening data center switching architectures

Other components of Extreme's Open Fabric are support for the IEEE's 802.1Qbg standard which, among other capabilities, includes Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregation (VEPA) for allowing physical switches to off-load some processing from virtual switches on servers; and support for VM mobility management in its Extreme XOS operating system.

Analysts say the new switches will be key in delivering Open Fabric.

"The BlackDiamond X8 density can be used to consolidate the aggregation and core switching tier in a data center network, thus minimizing the number of hops needed," says Jon Oltsik of Enterprise Strategy Group. "Combine this with M-LAG and you lower the latency, increase the number of data paths through the network, and increase network resiliency."

Extreme's Open Fabric also supports OpenFlow and OpenStack for delivering enterprise cloud infrastructures. OpenFlow is a way to program switches so the users can steer and load-balance traffic across multivendor platforms. Extreme recently joined the Open Networking Foundation, which is evangelizing OpenFlow. 

OpenStack is the open-source cloud infrastructure platform developed jointly by NASA and managed service provider Rackspace Hosting. 

Open Fabric also includes partnerships between Extreme and hypervisor vendors Red Hat, Microsoft and Citrix; and servers and storage vendors Intel and NetApp.

Extreme is pricing each new switch at $1,000 per 10G port and $4,000 per 40G port, excluding optics. On smaller enterprise switches, Extreme is offering 40G uplinks at $1,000 per port, excluding optics.

The BlackDiamond X8 is expected to begin customer trials in October. The Summit X670 switches are expected to ship in July.

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