With its new data center networking solution, Alcatel-Lucent is looking to join the likes of HP, Juniper, Avaya and Brocade in eating into Cisco's sizeable market share.
is joining rivals Cisco Systems, Avaya and Juniper Networks on the list of
network fabric vendors.
fabrics-or "mesh," as Alcatel-Lucent officials refer to them-are becoming a key
trend in the data center, offering resources a more flattened and virtualized
networking infrastructure to connect everything from servers to storage
devices. Such fabrics are fueling the drive toward more converged data centers.
Juniper has its QFabric
, which started life as
Project Stratus a couple of years ago, while Cisco has Fabric Path, Avaya VENA
(Virtual Enterprise Network
Architecture) and Brocade's VCS
(Virtual Cluster Switching). Cisco
bulked up its networking fabric offerings
as part of a larger
rollout of data center offerings in late March.
Alcatel-Lucent is entering that fray with not only the mesh architecture, but
also with a "pod" that offers a direct server-to-server traffic path without
having to rely on a core switch. The new data center switching solution is
built upon new and existing switches from the company, with the goal of
creating an environment with lower latency and power costs, higher scalability
and the ability to easily move applications across multiple sites.
offerings, announced April 5 at the kickoff of the company's Dyanmic Tour,
include the OmniSwitch 6900 Stackable LAN Switch series top-of-rack device for
10 Gigabit Ethernet-capable servers, and the OmniVista 2500 Virtual Machine
Manager, which gives enterprises automation and tracking of virtual machines,
and integration with standard virtualization hypervisors. It also includes the
recently released OmniSwitch 6850E Stackable LAN Switch top-of-rack technology
for 1GbE-enabled servers and the OmniSwith 10K chassis, which serves as the
core of the switching fabric.
Central to Alcatel-Lucent's
switching strategy is what company officials are calling a pod, which enables
top-of-rack switches to be directly connected and eliminates the need for the
core switch, which drives latency down below two microseconds, according to
Cliff Grossner, director product marketing for networking with Alcatel-Lucent
Enterprise. One OmniSwitch 6900 offers up to 64 ports of 10GbE, and Grossner
said the company's intent is to support 40GbE later this year.
capabilities also allow for hybrid cloud environments that span multiple sites,
center fabric is in multiple ... sites and interconnected by the WAN, but really
there is only one [networking] structure," Grossner said in an interview with
also announced vNP (Virtual Network Profile), which enables the network to
manage applications like services, where the network understands each
application and adapts to optimize the performance of the application.
In an April 5 blog
post, Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala
said the introduction of
the fabric idea has re-energized a networking industry that for too long had
simply been about being faster or cheaper than Cisco. The company still owns a
dominant share of the market (about 70 percent), but a growing number of
rivals-including Hewlett-Packard and Juniper, as well as Alcatel-Lucent,
Brocade, Avaya and others-are beginning to chip away at Cisco's stake.
each vendor is bringing unique capabilities to their offerings, which will help
them gain greater inroads into the market, Kerravala said.
are different enough, and it's important enough that I think it's not a slam
dunk that Cisco wins," he wrote. "The market is wide open now to the vendor
that can prove a distinct advantage in the evolution of the data center."