April 17, 2013

Virtual ExtremeXOS for Real Labs

Over the years I have met with many customers and usually I am asked about our “IOS” and how it works.  In some cases I have been asked about eXtreme’s OS or the customer will just ask what does XOS stand for.  In any case, I always use it as an opportunity to explain that while the marketing guys will tell you that the full name of the OS is ExtremeXOS, that to me XOS stands for eXtensible Operating System.  This is more than just trying to get out of the “IOS” shadow; it explains the power of our operating system.  eXtensible means that we are able to provide a solution not only between our products, but with our open API we can tie into other applications or other manufacturers to provide a true integrated network solution.  A system that is intelligent and can adjust to current network and environmental triggers such as time of day, user identity, device types as well as log events or third party application integration. XOS is more than just an OS; it is one that adapts to make the network smarter.

Since XOS is eXtensible it also means that it can adapt to any hardware that Extreme develops allowing us to have a single OS, edge to core.  But what else can it do? Would it be a benefit to have a switch work inside a virtual environment?  I don’t mean working with virtual servers but actually residing in a VM, a virtual switch that can be accessed just by starting it on your PC.  Being extensible means that XOS can be a full functioning switch running on a VM, either in VMWare or VirtualBox, which can be accessed for training, testing, or creating configurations.  Furthermore we have the ability to connect multiple VM switches together to create a virtual lab.

XOS VM Screenshot

Budgets are being stretched thin already and that means that the IT department cannot always have a lab to test out new features needed for new business initiatives.  Before XOS VM a customer would have to invest in a separate lab setting.  Although that is still a very practical and important step, it is not always reality.  The XOS VM means that a lab is not only available, but it is available to every member of the team, to create a test network that will make the install of a feature more of a success.  The XOS VM also means that new IT talent can be trained and on-boarded to the workings of the network with a more accurate understanding then just reading the Concepts Guide, or spending money or time out of the office in training.  The new employee can bring up the XOS VM and work with the free ENA or ENS content to learn the specifics to Extreme and to implement the lab testing at their pace.

Recently I had a situation where I needed to help a customer with a BGP design.  The design required that we use eBGP to two ISPs and iBGP on the two internal routers.  Since this design required Core licenses on 4 different switches it was hard to accomplish in a traditional lab.  Using XOS VM I was able to configure the switches, test the design, and send them, not only the configs for each switch, but also the virtual lab so that they could continue to test the config, as they developed route maps and other restrictions to the network.  XOS allowed us to work and build a network together in a virtual setting sharing information and experience remotely.

Networking is more than HW sending packets.  XOS allows us to extend the network so it to be an intelligent and integral part of the IT staff.  With the Virtual Switch functionality we are able to allow customers the flexibility to work from their desktops, regardless of where they are, and to test and validate new network features and changes, before they are implemented into production.  XOS VM is not just the next cool toy it is a real tool that allows for better integration of the IT roadmap to the business drivers of the company by allowing the creation of a full network lab on a laptop.

Want to take it for a spin? Use your eSupport userid and password to download from xkit.extremenetworks.com.

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Extreme Marketing Team

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