Extreme Looks to SDN, 802.11ac to Improve User Experience

At Interop, the company unveils hardware and software that more closely integrates the Enterasys technology with Extreme's.

Extreme Networks is unveiling a software-defined architecture that officials say is designed less to focus on the technology and more on the end-user experience.

Introduced March 31 at the Interop Las Vegas show, Extreme's solution more tightly brings together its networking solutions with those of Enterasys Networks, which the company bought last fall for $180 million. It also includes everything from such software-defined networking (SDN) features as automated network and application provisioning to 802.11ac wireless access points and a 100 Gigabit Ethernet module for its BlackDiamond X8 blade.

"The digital world that we live in today has transformed so dramatically over the past several years," Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility and applications at Extreme, told eWEEK, noting that for a long time talk of networks centered around connectivity. "The point of the network—starting with the end user—is what's of critical importance. We believe … it's all about the end user, and you work your way back to the network."

Leibovitz said the rise of intelligent connected devices—more than 1 billion smartphones were sold in 2013, and the wearable device market will hit $13 billion by 2018—has made end users much more mobile. At the same time, there is the growth in what he called the application economy—268 billion downloads of mobile apps will create a $77 billion industry by 2017. The results are a highly mobile and highly connected end user who is generating and receiving massive amounts of data that he or she wants to access and share.

Trends such as the consumerization of IT, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and social networking are only fueling this transformation.

"Device proliferation is still growing at a rapid pace," Leibovitz said. "It's in its infancy. … We take those devices with us with the expectations that it will all work."

The goal behind Extreme's architecture—stretching from the data center to the mobile campus via a unified hardware and software solution—is to ensure that it all works and that it provides a good end-user experience, he said.

Technology acquired through the Enterasys deal is a central part of the solution. NetSight 6.0 offers centralized management, a single tool with a single database that offers automated user, device and application provisioning, visibility of the entire network from the data center to the campus, a centralized dashboard, and integration of third-party hardware and software.

Also included is application analytics via Purview, technology announced by Extreme in February based on Extreme's own CoreFlow2 ASIC and deployable as either a physical appliance or a virtual solution.

The SDN capabilities come via Extreme's OneFabric SDN Connect 2.0 solution, giving organizations automated network provisioning, northbound integration with SDN controllers, southbound integration with the OpenFlow protocol or other APIs, and open environment that enables it to interoperate with a range of technologies from third parties, including VMware, Microsoft, MobileIron and Citrix Systems.

The open APIs ensure that there will be no vendor lock-in, Leibovitz said.

Extreme also is offering a 100GbE module for its BlackDiamond X8 blade. The module will offer 20 Tb/s throughput via a four-port blade, which adds up to 32 100GbE ports in each chassis, according to Extreme. The module leverages CFP 2 optics technology, offers distance capabilities of between 100 meters and 10 kilometers, and can be used for connectivity in data centers, high-performance computing deployments, or network edge and core environments.

The IdentiFi 3800 series 802.11ac wireless access points (WAPs) offer three times the wireless performance of 802.11n and centralized real-time reporting, forensics, location and analytics, according to Extreme officials. The WAPs also support the 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standards and active-active dual Ethernet ports for improved resiliency and performance.

Extreme is showcasing the new technologies at Interop, and will make them generally available in April.