Following up on the 2012 unveiling of its HyperEdge architecture to make campus networks ready for the onslaught of “disruptive technologies,” Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) has announced availability of the HyperEdge features to, as Star Trek’s Capt. Jean Luc Picard said so eloquently, “Make it so.”
The now-available HyperEdge features include centralized access point (AP) management, distributed AP forwarding, self-healing Brocade mobility APs and active-active links within individual and scaled HyperEdge domains—all features designed to automate and simplify the design of the campus network and create a seamless wired/wireless infrastructure, said Siva Valliappan, director of Product Management at Brocade.
“We are trying to drive innovation and change in campus networks, and part of that is driven by the fact that traditional network architecture didn’t play well with virtual machines and other new technologies—to make it work well companies needed to move to flat Layer 2 design,” he said. “For campuses, people are still building networks in old ways, but influx of new technologies are requiring us to rethink they way we do things. And for channel partners, we want to arm them with the ability to ask their customers if their networks are ready for disruptive technologies and have an answer for them if the answer is ‘no.’”
Campus environments often are multivendor environments with multiple endpoints, which would make ripping and replacing the network impossible, Valliappan noted. “We realized anything we created would have to be interoperable with multiple technologies and vendors.” As such, the company created a “building blocks” approach that channel partners could offer as a top-down or bottom-up solution, depending on the existing network architecture.
The top-down approach is HyperEdge Consolidated Management through multi-chassis trunking, which gives network designers the ability to build a spanning tree-free Layer 2 network, offering the features, benefits and resiliency of a multilayer network but within a flat, Layer 2 design.
The bottom-up approach is the HyperEdge Distributed Services, a firmware upgrade on current platforms, that allows companies to manage entry-level ICX 10G stackable switches with a Brocade Premium ICX stackable switch. The feature also allows distribution of the premium features and functionalities to the other switches, Valliappan said.
“We see a definite play for partners here: Larger networks can use the technology to insert the technology into their aggregation domain a few closets at a time. And for smaller plays, if a customer has only 300 to 500 Ethernet ports a channel partner can build the entire network with this technology and it will appear as a single chassis. This drives down the total cost of ownership and customers get a network platform that is agile for new services or applications,” Valliappan said.
The third and final building block is HyperEdge Distributed AP Forwarding, which secures and directs wireless traffic at the network edge rather than sending to a central controller. “This is unique in the market—it gives ability to terminate user traffic locally to get the best efficiency, scale and performance. Plus, it exposes benefits of the Brocade Mobility APs, namely self-healing, to ensure a seamless wired/wireless networking experience,” Valliappan said.