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Posts Tagged ‘Infrastructure Management’

Over the years, a number of companies have become synonymous with certain technology markets. These are companies that have been the primary evangelists for a market and are typically the technology and/or share leaders. Examples of this are F5 with Application Delivery Controllers and Aruba Networks in wireless LAN. In the WAN optimization, Riverbed is that vendor. The company has had its way with WAN optimization for over a decade now, has over 50% market share and has been a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for WAN optimization for seven years running now.

However, while being a de facto standard has many advantages, it often makes it a challenge to move into adjacent markets. Blue Coat is a great example of a company that become known as a great security specialist, but struggled to establish itself in the WAN optimization market. This has been Riverbed’s struggle over the past few years. The company has acquired companies like Mazu, Opnet and, my favorite, Zeus, to move into new markets, but has struggled to grow its share in these areas.

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This may be hard to believe, but OpenFlow is now about four years old, and late last year version 1.4 of OpenFlow was unveiled. This week, startup Pica8 became the first vendor to support 1.4, which may be the first OpenFlow version that’s ready for prime time. OpenFlow features a number of new features, improvements, and one change.

The new features are:

  • Bundles. The bundles feature of OpenFlow 1.4 enables a group of OpenFlow messages to be “bundled” as a single, which allows for better synchronization of changes across as series of switches. This is similar to a “commit” of multiple configuration changes in traditional layer 2/3 environments.
  • Optical ports. In 1.4, support for Optical ports has been added. OpenFlow can now be used to configure or monitor optical ports, which brings FiberChannel over Ethernet into, play in an SDN. This also allows for higher-speed transmission rates to be used in the SDN.
  • Synchronized tables. Flow tables can now be synchronized uni-directionally or bi-directionally. This has some implications on the way data flows are synchronized to transmissions of data. This effectively doubles the TCAM scalability of the switch.

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It seems that we in the networking industry have been talking about evolving the WAN for well over 20 years now. The traditional “hub and spoke” WAN that we’ve all grown accustomed to was ideally suited for client/server computing, where users were in branches and applications were located in the data center.

Over the years there have been small, incremental changes to the WAN that have improved the performance and security of the network. MPLS is now the de facto standard instead of frame-relay and WAN optimization has become a core service for many organizations. These changes did indeed improve the WAN marginally, but it’s time to overhaul and re-architect the WAN.

Most companies have survived with a legacy WAN for years, so why do I now think WAN evolution is a business imperative? The primary reason is that compute is shifting from client/server and the internet to cloud and mobile. Cloud and mobile computing create entirely different traffic patterns than legacy computing models. Also, business agility is a top priority for company leaders, and that drives the need for IT agility and, more specifically, network agility. As a result, today’s networks are highly inflexible.

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I believe Juniper was the first mainstream network vendor to use the term “fabric” aggressively to describe its next-generation network architecture when the company announced QFabric back in early 2011. There may have been another vendor that used it first, but Juniper made it mainstream. Since then, almost every network vendor uses the term “fabric” broadly, and Juniper itself announced its next phase in fabric-based network when it unveiled MetaFabric in late 2013.

Subsequently, I’ve heard many customers, investors, and even some other analysts ask me what the difference was between MetaFabric and QFabric. The first thing to understand is that while QFabric and MetaFabric are related, MetaFabric does not in any way replace QFabric. I’ve heard some rumors about Juniper’s QFabric being retired because of MetaFabric, but in discussions with Juniper, I can most certainly say that this is not true. QFabric is here to stay.

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The snow is finally off the ground in most of the New England area, opening day of Major League Baseball has come around, but most importantly, it’s Interop time in Las Vegas. This year’s Interop is about a month earlier than Interop of years past, but the activity from the show seems just as high. One of the more interesting announcements I saw from the first couple of days is Gigamon’s Multi Purpose Visibility Fabric Node.

Gigamon, the market leader in traffic visibility, announced the upcoming release of the GigaVUE-HC2 modular fabric node for the Services Layer of the company’s Visibility Fabric. The modularity of the product makes pervasive visibility easier to achieve. Today, visibility requires a number of different components, such as TAPs, packet modification, high-density ports, and intelligent packet modification.

Gigamon’s new GigaVUE-HC2 solves this problem with a modular product that can make it easier to deploy a visibility fabric in a highly complex network environment. The product is a compact 2RU, rack-mountable appliance, so it can be deployed in even the densest environments.

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Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The Winter Olympics kicked off late last week in Sochi, Russia. Personally, I’m looking forward to my home country, Canada, bringing home the gold in ice hockey.

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