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Alcatel-Lucent brings 40G to the core

Alcatel-Lucent this week at Interop will flesh out its data center fabric vision with 40G Ethernet and higher-density 10G Ethernet capabilities on its core switches, as well as enhanced software for its top-of-rack and core switches.

The company will also officially announce a partnership with Citrix to optimize its data center fabric for Citrix server and desktop virtualization, and WAN optimization.

Together, the extensions to Alcatel-Lucent's Application Fluent Networking (AFN) strategy are intended to offer users a low latency, multipath network with which to establish multi-site private clouds and connect to public clouds offered by service providers. In this endeavor, Alcatel-Lucent's AFN will go up against fabrics like Cisco's FabricPath and CloudVerse, Juniper's QFabric, Brocade's Brocade One and Cloudplex, and HP's FlexNetwork.

FABRIC WARS: Cisco vs. Brocade vs. Juniper

For its OmniSwitch 10000 core switch, Alcatel-Lucent will roll out 8-port 40G Ethernet and 16-port 10G Ethernet modules. The line cards allow the OmniSwitch 10000 chassis to support up to 64 wire-speed 40G Ethernet ports and up to 256 wire-speed 10G Ethernet ports.

The densities will allow users to configure a mesh of 10G or 40G links between the top-of-rack and core for server-to-server and server-to-storage networking over multiple active paths. The Layer 2 multipath fabric will be based on the IEEE Shortest Path Bridging standard, which is founded on the IEEE 802.1ah Provider Backbone Bridging MAC-in-MAC standard, a Layer 2 alternative to MPLS for Metro Ethernet deployments.

Shortest Path Bridging will be one software extension to come this Fall for the OmniSwitch 10000, and 6850E and 6900 top-of-rack switches. Others will include Virtual Chassis, Data Center Bridging and Virtual Edge Port Aggregation (VEPA) capabilities for the 10000 and 6900, and VEPA and Virtual Network Profiling (vNP) features for the 6850E.

Virtual Chassis allows multiple switch chassis to be logical linked into one addressable and manageable unit. Data Center Bridging is an IEEE standard for lossless Ethernet transmission, specifically for data centers.

VEPA is also an IEEE standard for coordinating activities between virtual switches on blade servers and physical switches in the data center network. And vNP is an Alcatel-Lucent development for enabling VM mobility within and between data centers by binding service and security profiles to those workloads.

Alcatel-Lucent says vNP also provides scalability past VLAN limit of 4,096.

Like the fabric software, the 8-port 40G and 16-port 10G modules for the OmniSwitch 10000 will be available in the fall. Pricing for the 40G module is $67,000. Optics are an additional $450 to $14,000, Alcatel-Lucent says.

ALU+Citrix

The Citrix arrangement will help allow Alcatel-Lucent's switches to deliver tighter service level agreements and more efficient data center operation by combining Layer 2/3 switching with Layer 4-7 application acceleration and WAN optimization.

The companies will jointly market Alcatel-Lucent's switches with Citrix NetScaler WAN optimization, and XenDesktop and XenServer desktop and server virtualization applications.

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


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