Extreme Networks Brings Open Fabric to the Edge

The company’s offering will enable enterprises to bring UC, physical security systems, audio-video bridging and wireless LANs into a single network.

Extreme Networks officials more than a year ago launched their Open Fabric network architecture in the data center to help businesses deal with such trends as cloud computing, virtualization and mobility. Now the company is extending its Open Fabric capabilities to enterprise campuses.

With Open Fabric, Extreme brought such features as high availability and low latency, low power, automation and open standards to the data center, according to Jake Howering, senior director of marketing for Extreme. The next natural step for Open Fabric is the enterprise, where the influx of mobile devices, virtualization, cloud computing, wireless LANs and software-defined networks (SDNs) is putting new pressures on the network, Howering told eWEEK.

And right now, IT administrators are having to manage multiple networks for workloads like unified communications (UC), physical security and WiFi, he said. Such situations are expensive and inefficient.

“That isn’t going to scale and let you grow,” he said.

Extreme this quarter will release its Open Fabric Edge technologies, looking to leverage the company’s ExtremeXOS networking operating system and bring UC, physical security systems, audio-video bridging and WLAN onto a single converged network, a move that could offer greater resource efficiency and scalability—from 1 Gigabit Ethernet to 40GbE—and reduce capital expenses in edge networks by as much as 81 percent, according to Extreme officials.

It also will help businesses deal with the burgeoning bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, Howering said.

The networking vendor also wants to bring greater automation and network customization to the environment. The Open Fabric Edge, announced April 9, will support programmable APIs as well as the OpenFlow controller protocol—which is supported on all of Extreme’s switches—and OpenStack open cloud platform through a plug-in from Extreme, both of which are key ingredients in SDNs.

In addition, Extreme officials are offering new tools within the ExtremeXOS operating system, including one called Chalet. The Web-based graphical user interface (GUI) is designed to detect and provision IP-based cameras, leveraging secure 802.1x authentication and quality-of-service (QoS) policies to ensure the high quality of the video.

The Open Fabric Edge solution will include the latest version—4.0—of Extreme’s Ridgeline network and service management software. The latest version will include an updated GUI that will give IT administrators a single point for managing switches, access points and wireless controllers.

“It unifies the wired and wireless view into the infrastructure,” Howering said, noting that having a single management tool helps reduce operating costs and the amount of resources needed.

Extreme also is introducing new networking switches for Layer 2 as part of the rollout. The Summit X430 series switches are compact devices that bring ExtremeXOS to the converged access edge, which will mean improved QoS, high availability capabilities and identity-aware security. The Summit X440 offers fiber-optic interfaces on all ports as a way of physically extending the network edge. With the interfaces, businesses can connect such devices as cameras, phones, remote office and other switches that are as far as 70 kilometers from aggregation or core switches.

In addition, Extreme is offering new wireless access points designed to reduce the costs of deploying and operating an 802.11n WLAN. The Altitude 4022 and 4522 also can serve as virtual controllers, enabling controller-less operations at small and medium-size sites by coordinating the operation of as many as 24 nearby access points.