Alcatel-Lucent Stakes 40GbE Claim In Data Center Fabric Wars


Alcatel-Lucent is challenging Cisco, Juniper, Hewlett-Packard, Brocade and others with a performance-boost upgrade to its fabric offering, including the addition of 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet on various core networking switches.

Specifically, Alcatel-Lucent's fabric, Mesh, now sports 40 GbE links throughout its architecture, which will increase data center responsiveness and flexibility when deploying bandwidth-intensive applications such as VDI and video, the company said.

Alcatel-Lucent unveiled the upgrades at this week's Interop conference in Las Vegas, including the addition of 40 GbE capabilities to its OmniSwitch 10000 Modular Ethernet LAN Chassis core switch.

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The use of that pumped-up switch with server communications optimization capabilities -- including the Shortest Path Bridging technique adopted by several major data center vendors -- is what boosts the overall Mesh performance. Shortest Path Bridging software will be available for the OmniSwitch 10000 and the 6580E and 6900 top-of-rack switches in the fall.

Alcatel-Lucent debuted its Application Fluent Networking strategy about 18 months ago, making it the latest major networking vendor to challenge for fabric supremacy and offer customers flexible data center solutions with an eye toward efficiently building out cloud infrastructure. The Application Fluent Networking strategy is key to its continuing global expansion and to an upcoming bolstered channel program in North America.

Later this year, the company will add virtual chassis technology and virtual edge port aggregation capabilities for several switches. Alcatel-Lucent also will continue to add Virtual Network Profiling capabilities, which enable fluid virtual machine movement among data centers beyond virtual LAN limits. In addition, the company said its Mesh solution is ready to support 100 GbE technology as customers scale up to faster speeds and meatier throughput.

Cliff Grossner, strategic marketing director, said Alcatel-Lucent's goal is to provide private cloud architecture in which fabrics are single, logical structures and can be physically spread across a number of sites. Along with the technology boosters for its Mesh offering, it will this year offer value-added services, such as remote diagnostics, and end-user training.

From a fabric-to-fabric comparison of 1,000 servers in use, Alcatel-Lucent argues that its fabric uses less power over a five-year period, offers the lowest cost per server-facing port, and offers lower server-to-server latency than Juniper, HP, Brocade and Cisco. An Alcatel-Lucent fabric option for 1,000 servers winds up more than $900,000 cheaper than a comparable Cisco solution over five years, Grossner said.

Mesh, Grossner noted, also can be integrated with Alcatel-Lucent's CloudBand, a carrier cloud platform to form a hybrid cloud platform for accessing data in and from a variety of environments.

In addition to the Mesh announcement, Alcatel-Lucent said it had added another ecosystem partner for the data center: Citrix. Specifically, it will market Alcatel-Lucent switches with Citrix NetScaler WAN optimization products and XenServer desktop and virtualization wares.

That will enable the two companies to provide a "universal SLA" for network Layers 2-7 -- Layer 2 and 3 switching with Layer 4-7 application and WAN optimization.

"We're working with them to focus on the best user experience possible," Grossner said. "We wanted to look at how we can integrate on the management side and reduce op-ex and complexity."

Alcatel-Lucent already partners with NetApp, VMware, Emulex and HP, among other vendors, for network management, server virtualization and storage capabilities in its architecture.