Extreme Networks took advantage of the media frenzy caused by the Big Switch launch to announce an upgrade to its SDN strategy yesterday. Previously, Extreme had unveiled the behemoth of a switch, the Black Diamond X8, to be the centerpiece of its SDN and network fabric strategy. Early feedback from Extreme customers has been more than positive, as the product appears to perform as advertised in the most demanding environments.
This week, Extreme announced new 100 Gig-E and 40 Gig-E modules for the BD X8 as well as some management and feature enhancements. The need for these modules should be clear to all in the right environments. In some recent research that I have done, the number one issue with being more aggressive with server virtualization is that the network can’t handle the amount of traffic generated. Extreme is releasing a 4-port 100 Gig-E line card, as well as a 12-port 40 Gig-E line card, giving the network the performance it needs to support the high scale created from cloud and virtual computing. While this kind of scale isn’t for everyone, it is important for Internet Exchange Centers and Service Providers where multi-tenant networks and million route entries are the norm.
Additionally, Extreme will support the two SDN applications I highlighted in my blog yesterday: the Big Switch Network Tap and the Big Virtual Network Switch. It’s interesting that the big initiative for network vendors today is to create programmable interfaces with third-party vendors. Extreme, through its XOS operating system, has had this capability for years. However, until recently the use cases for Extreme’s programmable operating system were limited to a few niche applications. In some ways, SDNs provided the missing problem for the solution Extreme tried to solve with XOS. The Big Switch partnership is a good start for Extreme, but as SDNs become more widely adopted, the structure of XOS should be a differentiator for the company.
Despite the hype and media noise around SDNs, we’re in the very early days of this technology shift. From a recent study conducted by ZK Research, 85% of companies are currently in the researching phase of SDNs. Extreme’s support of the Big Switch applications and focus on high-performance environments gives it some practical solutions for the customers looking to invest in SDNs today, which should set them up for where the industry goes tomorrow.