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Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, which is continuing to build a channel presence even as its Paris-based parent grinds its way through restructuring, made major recent announcements concerning both its software-defined networking (SDN) strategy and a new set of products and resources for SMB customers.
Specific to SDN, Alcatel-Lucent said it would continue extend its so-called Application Fluent Networking strategy, which it originally unveiled two years ago to offer customers more flexible data center solutions and address the burgeoning fabric concept for virtualized and cloud-ready networks.
The latest additions to that strategy, which thrust the company further into the SDN battle, include that Alcatel-Lucent's OmniVista 2500 Virtual Machine Manager is now classified as "VMware-ready," meaning it has the tightest integration possible with VMware environments. Now, Alcatel-Lucent's OmniSwitch platform and associated products can not only detect virtual applications and adjust network resources based on virtualized traffic but also be configured for individual user policies and the types of devices and applications being used.
A set of RESTful APIs -- that is, representational state transfer (REST) technologies that enable easier data transfer -- allows other applications, controllers and platforms such as OpenStack and CloudStack to interact with the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch tools to speed and make more efficient overall application delivery. Alcatel-Lucent is also offering application performance analysis of how virtual machines are working together.
Cliff Grossner, Alcatel-Lucent senior director, networks solutions marketing, said both solution providers and customers have heard enough about SDN at this point, and they want to cut through hype and get down to brass tacks.
"What we're providing is basic capabilities that enable SDN to be built into the network fabric itself," he told CRN. "You can't have it be these pieces that fit together in a complex way -- that doesn't help anything. It's all got to be simpler and more automated, especially for smaller enterprises that don't have complex needs. For us, it's a pretty natural extension of our AFN strategy."
According to Grossner, a big difference between Alcatel-Lucent and other vendors is that there's less emphasis spent on individual communications protocols like OpenFlow and more on enabling programmability in its own platforms while creating interoperability with other platforms using the RESTful and other techniques.
"We want our fabric to recognize all necessary objects [in a network] and boot them," Grossner said. "We want to be practical about it and bring elements in the data center and switches from other vendors."
OpenFlow, Grossner said, has been overhyped. He likened it to the industry frenzy over Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) going back a few years, noting that the FCoE attach rate in the industry is only about 15 percent now, and alternative data center technologies like iSCSI are chugging along just fine.
"We can't wait around for OpenFlow to be pervasive," Grossner said. "It's nice, but there has to be a good complement between the application world and network world and more compatibility [overall]."