With the advent of Ethernet fabrics, the number of tiers that need to be managed across an enterprise network is being sharply reduced. In fact, instead of thinking in terms of routers and switches, the gear that makes up the network is now being managed as one logical platform for delivering network services.
Right now, there is a race on to deliver the Ethernet fabrics that make delivering those services possible with vendors now extending the reach of their Ethernet fabrics out from the data center to the edge of the network.
The two latest vendors to make that extension are Brocade and Extreme Networks, which today separately announced new additions to their Ethernet fabric lineups.
Brocade unveiled the Brocade HyperEdge Architecture, which fulfills a commitment the company made last year to deliver a broad array of services to the edge of the network. Those services include centralized access point management, distributed access point forwarding, self-healing Brocade Mobility Access Points and Active-Active links within individual Brocade domains.
According to Siva Valliappan, director of product management for Brocade, the Brocade Ethernet fabric is designed to unify the management of network services from the edge of the network to the data center. In essence, Valliappan says Brocade now allows IT organizations to flatten their networks in a way that allows them to better manage the end user experience on an end-to-end basis.
At the same time, Extreme Networks is launching Open Fabric Edge, an extension of ExtremeXOS that not only can be used to integrate wired and wireless networks; it can also be deployed to manage unified communications, physical security and audio-video bridging.
According to Jake Howering, director of data center marketing solutions for Extreme Networks, as an extension of the Extreme Network Ethernet Fabric, Open Fabric Edge allows organizations to reduce the cost of managing network environments using a common set of management tools.
Brocade and Extreme Networks are not the only vendors pursuing Ethernet Fabric architectures. Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Enterasys have all rolled out their own versions of similar architectures. The challenge right now is that in terms of enterprise networking, IT organizations have not seen this level of innovation in years.
The bad news is that ranging from software-defined networking to new frameworks for managing IT infrastructure in the era of the cloud, absorbing all these changes will take some time. But the one thing that is for certain is that as platforms for delivering services continue to evolve, the network world as we once knew it will never be the same again.