November 13, 2012

Extreme Networks Supersizes SDN with Big Switch and 100Gbe and 40Gbe XL Blades

At Extreme Networks, we strive to do one thing, build the best Ethernet switches in the world. Part of that is staying out in front of rapidly changing technology, including Software Defined Networking. The data center is changing – we are seeing more and more VMs than ever across larger broadcast domains and flatter 2-tier architectures – all things that are creating scaling challenges. One example: in the past a single host may have had only a single system image, such is no longer the case. As for late 2012, low estimates peg the number at 20 VMs per server blade with many saying even more.

Regardless of exactly how many VMs end up on a machine, they do add complexity to the network as the network needs to be able to handle the hundreds of thousands of addresses, routes and flows that a modern data center ends up supporting.

That is where our new XL blades come in. Not only are they faster, with both 100Gbe and 40Gbe versions announced, they are smarter with larger tables in hardware allowing better support of the stringent demands that hosting providers, IXPs and other customers now have. Now we can handle the huge scale of the multitenant cloud and the million+ routes, VMs and flows found in those environments. This helps our customer do more with fewer switches and simpler architectures while also helping futureproof the network, keeping costs down.

One of the cool features of the new XL blades is the Unified Forwarding Table, UFT. In the past you needed separate tables for L2 MACs, L3 v4/v6 addresses, IP Multicast and ACLs/Flows. Now, all these draw from the same pool, the Unified Forwarding Table, allowing the hardware to seamlessly handle different deployment profiles including Balanced L2/L3, L3 Heavy and Flow/ACL Heavy deployments.

With CCIEs earning up to $221k a year in San Jose, it is no wonder that being able to automate what were once manual configuration changes would be a high priority. We have long held that the scripting and automation capabilities built into ExtremeXOS were a big deal as they help IT organizations do more with less. Along those same lines, we also announced that SDN now does something.

In our recent press release, we announced solutions integrating two different Big Switch applications:

  • Big Tap: security and monitoring in large, high speed networks has been a challenge. With OpenFlow and SDN, Big Tap allows visibility into all traffic in the network. Beyond visibility, it also provides control, either forwarding traffic to monitoring devices or filtering at a highly granular level.
  • Big Virtual Switch (BVS): ideal for multitenant cloud situations, allows automated provisioning of network resources with control over everything from Layer 2 to Layer 7. With VM mobility, security and network provisioning have become challenges. Fortunately SDN applications like BVS ensure error free tenant isolation regardless of the physical location of the hardware their VMs are residing upon, enabling true cloud scale deployments by using virtual networks free from VLAN limitations.

For anyone in the industry these are exciting times. The data center is evolving and more intelligence is being demanded from the network. Fortunately, we have that covered, with new XL blades for the BlackDiamond X8 which include revolutionary new Unified Forwarding Table technology as well as integration with SDN controllers and applications, like Big Tab and Big Virtual Switch from Big Switch Networks.

By the way, we are at SC12 this year and you are invited to come by and visit the Liberator, our 53 foot mobile EBC which is on the show floor at SC12. Even if you can’t make it, you can follow us at the show at @extremenetworks on Twitter and at

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Extreme Marketing Team

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