Interop 2013: 10 Hot Products For Network Monitoring, SDN And More

In The Interop Spotlight

The best and brightest in networking took to Las Vegas this week for the annual Interop event, where thousands gathered to discuss the latest in data center and enterprise trends. While topics such as SDN and the cloud were particularly hot, attendees and vendors alike were buzzing about recent advancements in application delivery, virtual switches and much, much more.

Here's a look at 10 products that got people talking at Interop 2013.

F5 Networks' and Big Switch Networks' ADN Solution

F5 Networks and Big Switch Networks teamed up with a joint solution for simplifying the deployment and orchestration of private cloud data center networks.

The new offering marries F5's Big-IP Application Delivery Networking (ADN) services with Big Switch's Big Virtual Switch application, a combination that both companies said lets users deploy the robust network services they're used to from traditional networks, but to do so in a more automated and less time-consuming way.

Big Switch and F5 said the new offering works by using the Big Virtual Switch to dynamically provision segments of a virtual network, while F5's Big-IP application delivery services ensure those segments automatically deliver scalable, and highly available, applications. The end result, the companies said, is that network administrators no longer need to manually define or deploy network connections or compute resources, saving them time and reducing their margin of error.

Riverbed's Stingray Services Controller

Application performance specialist Riverbed Technologies launched its Stingray Services Controller, a new platform for application delivery controller-as-a-service, or ADCaaS.

Riverbed said the new ADCaaS platform can automate the deployment of application delivery services for virtually any network architecture, including software-defined networks. The new platform is being targeted largely at cloud providers and enterprises with private cloud deployments looking for the ability to provision, scale and deploy ADC on an as-needed basis.

Stingray works, Riverbed said, by shaking up the traditional ADC deployment model, whereby a shared ADC infrastructure must support multiple applications. With Stingray, the company said, it's possible to deploy an "ADC per application" model, meaning more agility and higher levels of automation.

HP's FlexFabric Family

Hewlett-Packard continued to stake its claim in the burgeoning SDN space at Interop 2013 with the introduction of its FlexFabric line of switches and routers.

HP's FlexFabric family includes the FlexFabric 12900 core and OpenFlow-enabled switch series optimized for virtualized workloads; the HP FlexFabric 5900 switch, which comes in both a physical or virtual model; and the FlexFabric 11908 aggregation switch, which HP is positioning as the industry's first aggregation switch to be support the OpenFlow protocol.

HP's Virtualized Services Router is also part of the new lineup. VSR is a routing technology that leverages software-based Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to accelerate the delivery of services on a virtual machine. The new VSR also can be used to extend enterprise routing policies to the cloud, HP said.

Citrix's CloudBridge

Citrix's big announcement at this year's Interop wasn't so much focused on a new product offering, but on a unique blending of two products it already has.

The marriage was between Citrix's CloudBridge product -- a cloud connectivity solution for ensuring secure connections between enterprise data centers and public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure -- and Branch Repeater, which optimizes PC applications for virtualized desktops. According to Citrix, the resulting product is essentially a new version of CloudBridge that includes WAN optimization functionality and will help customers deliver applications from any cloud service, all while ensuring a seamless transition from legacy PC apps.

Talari Networks' APN 3.0 Software

Talari Networks this year took home the Best of Interop award in the Performance Optimization and Testing cateogory for the latest version of its Adaptive Private Networking (APN) operating software.

The new software supports the vendor's family of Mercury WAN appliances and lets enterprise networks automatically adjust to changes in traffic flows and bandwidth demands, a feature that ensures network resources are prioritized for mission-criticial applications and that realtime applications are given the QoS levels they need. Talari said that, traditionally, this kind of dynamic network architecture has only been achievable through disparate technologies or a fully meshed -- and often costly -- MPLS network.

Key features of APN 3.0 include Single Point Configuration, or the ability for Talari's WAN appliances to communicate with one another and eliminate the need for individual device configurations, along with a new Network Management System (NMS) that arms network managers with detailed views of their networks and the traffic flowing through them.

Juniper Networks' JunosV Contrail Controller

Juniper Networks contributed to the SDN craze that swept this year's Interop event with the unveiling of its JunosV Contrail Controller. The controller -- which came into Juniper's portfolio through its acquisition of Contrail Systems last year -- is being aimed primarily at enterprise customers and cloud services providers. Its main value proposition, like many SDN solutions, is providing networkwide visibility and automation, making data center networks far easier to manage and control.

Juniper said the new controller can "infinitely scale" across hybrid clouds and disparate data centers and leverages a big data approach to analytics, allowing it to provide both realtime and historical views of application-level traffic between networks.

But perhaps the most significant detail is its release date: The product is slated for availability during the second half of the year, rather than sometime in 2014 as Juniper originally projected.

Xirrus' Wired Switches

Xirrus may best be known for its wireless arrays and access points, but the vendor threw Interop attendees a curve ball this year, introducing its first-ever line of wired switches.

As part of its broader Unified Access portfolio, Xirrus took the wraps off three new wired Ethernet switches: the XT-5024, XT-5048 and XT-5003. The XT-5024 and XT-5048 are 24-port and 48-port switches, respectively, equipped with advanced Layer 2+ functionality, along with Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities for powering Xirrus' access points.

The new XT-5003, meanwhile, is a three-port, in-wall Gigabit Ethernet switch.

Xirrus said the three new switches can scale through virtual stacking to increase capacity as demand grows and will be available in June.

Jeda Networks' Fabric Network Controller

Jeda Networks piqued attendees' interest at this year's Interop with the launch of its Fabric Network Controller (FNC), a software-based controller Jeda is touting as the industry's first to create high-performance storage networks over high-speed Ethernet fabrics.

FNC software works by residing in the network as a virtual machine, and then decoupling or extracting the storage networking control plane from the physical network hardware. According to Jeda, the "storage network overlay" provided by FNC can transform Ethernet fabric into a highly scalable storage networking fabric, and ultimately make that fabric much easier to manage and less resource-hungry.

Jeda said FNC can be installed as a virtual appliance for VMware ESX. The product will ship in an Early Ship Program beginning this month, with general availability slated for this summer.

Alcatel-Lucent's OmniSwitch 6450L

Alcatel-Lucent used this year's Interop as a stage for unveiling several solutions meant to extend its Application Fluent Network -- a network that automatically adjusts itself to ensure optimal application performance -- to the branch office.

The new OmniSwitch 6450L is a series of stackable switches targeted specifically at campus LAN deployments. Alcatel-Lucent said the series is able to scale according to customer needs through software upgrades to 1 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity with 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks. The new OmniSwitch family also boasts remote stacking capabilities, energy- efficient Ethernet (802.3az) support, and zero-touch provisioning. Alcatel-Lucent also rolled out OmniAccess WLAN 4x50 controllers and a new range of remote and branch access points.

WildPackets' Omni Distributed Analysis Platform 7.5

WildPackets, a network and application performance provider, used Interop to debut the latest version of its flagship wireless network analysis solution, the Omni Distributed Analysis Platform.

The new release -- version 7.5 -- is being touted by WildPackets as the only commercially available wireless analysis platform to operate on 802.11ac, the most current 802.11 standard. This distinction, WildPackets said, allows Omni Distributed Analysis Platform 7.5 to maximize high-speed WLAN uptime and quickly drill down to the cause of any WLAN performance issues.

Because of the higher networking speeds capable with the 802.11ac standard, WildPackets said traditional network analysis solutions aren't enough to fully capture 802.11ac data. To combat this, WildPackets said its latest platform can capture wireless 802.11ac data directly from supported access points, and that it has worked with vendors including Aerohive and Ruckus to ensure this functionality.