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Alcatel-Lucent unveils key piece of data center fabric

Alcatel-Lucent this week rolled out 40G Ethernet modules for its top-of-rack data center switches to help further its data center fabric strategy.

Part of the company's Application Fluent Networking, the modules fit into Alcatel-Lucent's OmniSwitch 6900 top-of-rack switches. They come in two flavors: a three-port 40G QSFP+ version and a hybrid 10G/40G configuration, with four 10G SFP+ Ethernet ports and two 40G QSFP+ interfaces.

The modules allow users to construct what Alcatel-Lucent call 40G "pods," smaller fabric switching configurations of two to six 6900 switches. These pods can then be connected together through an Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 10000 core switch to form a mesh of pods, or a cloud-type environment.

Alcatel-Lucent introduced the concept of pod and mesh networking last spring, when it rolled out the 6900. At that time, the company said four pods connected to two OmniSwitch 10000s in the core over 40G links could support 14,400 server ports and 169Tbps of switching capacity across 10 racks of 48 units each, with latency of 5 microseconds.

FABRIC WARS: Cisco vs. Brocade vs. Juniper

Application Fluent Networking is competing with other network virtualization and fabric architectures from Cisco, Brocade, HP, Dell, IBM, Extreme, Enterasys, Avaya and others.

The 40G modules cost $1,500 per port, not including optics. They will be available early in 2012. In mid-2012, Alcatel-Lucent will ship OmniSwitch software that supports the IEEE's Data Center Bridging and Shortest Path Bridging specifications for lossless, multipath Ethernet; and Edge Virtual Bridging for interaction between virtual and physical switches. It will also ship Fibre-Channel-over-Ethernet at that time.

Alcatel-Lucent expanded its partner ecosystem for its Application Fluent Networking strategy. The company lined up Emulex, for server interoperability at 10G; VMware, for interoperability between VMware's VMotion software and Alcatel-Lucent's Virtual Network Profile VM mobility package and integration with the Alcatel-Lucent management platform; and NetApp, for a storage array test bed.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


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