Extreme, Brocade bring fabrics to the enterprise edge

Architectures and products designed to converge and integrate disparate campus networks, services

Extreme Networks and Brocade this week separately announced products and strategies to tightly integrate IT resources in the enterprise campus.

Both companies unveiled fabric architectures for the enterprise designed to converge different networks and network services for faster and easier provisioning and management. The architectures are supported by new switching, wireless LAN and management products optimized for fabric-type convergence and integration.

[FABRIC WARS: Cisco vs. Brocade vs. Juniper]

Extreme's Open Fabric Edge looks to enable unified communications, physical security, audio-video bridging, and WLAN on a single converged network. Extreme touts the capabilities of its ExtremeOS software in enabling automation, availability and OpenFlow-based SDNs.

For UC, Extreme switches are now certified for operation with Microsoft Lync. The network supports UC capabilities such as VoIP desk phones, softphones, instant messaging and video collaboration.

ExtremeXOS also offers tools to detect and provision IP-based cameras, using secure 802.1X authentication and QoS policies to ensure quality video. Automation and network customization is enabled with the support of both programmable APIs, and SDN tools with OpenFlow and OpenStack, Extreme says.

The software also supports the EAPS protocol to reduce network downtime for applications such as CRM, data warehouses and VoIP for carrier and voice grade networks.

Extreme's new switches for the Open Fabric Edge include the Summit X430 and X440. The X430 is a Layer 2-only switch available in either 24- or 48-port 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet configurations. The X440 is Layer 2/3, with 24 fiber ports and stackability for greater scale.

Both switches support granular QoS, high availability features and identity-aware security, through ExtremeOS, Extreme says. Customers can connect devices including cameras, phones, remote offices, and other switches at distances up to 70km from aggregation or core switches with the X440, the company says.

Extreme also rolled out two new dual radio 802.11n wireless access points - the Altitude 4022, which works with a controller, and the 4522, which is controller-independent. The Altitude 4522 serves as a virtual controller to coordinate operations of up to 24 neighboring access points for mobility and QoS services, Extreme says.

To manage the Open Fabric Edge, Extreme unveiled Ridgeline 4.0 Network and Service Management Software. Ridgeline 4.0 provides an updated graphical user interface to support a single pane of glass view for switches, access points and wireless controllers.

All products are available in the second quarter. The Summit X430 costs $995 and the Summit X440 costs $3,495. The Altitude 4022 costs $395 and the 4522 costs $645.

Brocade unleashed an edge fabric of its own for enterprises with the key features of Brocade's HyperEdge Architecture being service intelligence, typically reserved for higher-end core campus switches, extended to entry-level switches at the edge; consolidated management through the sharing sharing of software images and network policies among logically grouped switches and wireless access points; and distributed access point forwarding, in which mobile traffic is secured and directed at the network edge, not tunneled back to a central controller, to avoid network bottlenecks.

Products that adhere to Brocade's HyperEdge Architecture include the new ICX 6430-C compact switch and the ICX 6650 switch. The ICX 6430-C is a 12-port version of the existing Brocade ICX 6430 in a workspace form factor but with all of the 6430 features, Brocade says.

The 6650 is a high-end switch with 10G and 40G Ethernet port configuration options. It's designed for campus aggregation or non-fabric data center top-of-rack deployments, and includes "Ports on Demand" licensing for up to 64 10G and four 40G ports in a single rack unit.

Other HyperEdge products include three new WLAN access points: the Brocade Mobility 1220, 1240 and 1250. The 1240 supports throughputs up to 450Mbps, and the 1250 adds 802.11ac support, offering speeds up to 1Gbps for wireless users. Brocade also announced the availability of the Brocade Mobility RFS9510 Controller, which the company says supports up to 10,240 access points and 200,000 devices.

New hardware options for some of Brocade's existing switches are also available for the HyperEdge Architecture. The company rolled out a management module for its FastIron SX switches that offers up to eight times the performance of the current modules and support for Virtual Routing and Forwarding. Brocade also rolled out a new uplink module for its FCX switch as well as new direct current power supplies for the Brocade ICX 6610 switch to boost availability.

The Brocade ICX 6430-C will be available June with a starting list price of $1,095. The Brocade ICX 6650 is available now with a starting list price of $19,200.

The Mobility 1220 and 1240 Access Points will be available in May at starting list prices of $625 and $1,245, respectively. The Brocade RFS9510 controller will be available in June with a list price of $39,995.

The FastIron SX management module, shipping in June, will be available at a starting list price of $3,995. The ICX 6610 DC power supply and Brocade FCX uplink modules are available now at list prices of $1,100 and $1,795, respectively.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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