Extreme SDN Platform Supports Microsoft Skype for Business

At Interop, Extreme Networks officials say integrating its OneController with Skype for Business will ensure network capacity for video conferences.

video conferencing

Extreme Networks is enhancing its software-defined networking controller to make it easier for enterprises to use Microsoft's Skype for Business, the unified communications platform formerly known as Lync.

At the Interop 2015 show this week, Extreme officials announced the integration of its OpenDaylight-based software-defined networking (SDN) controller with Skype for Business, a move that essentially automates the programming of a network to ensure enough capacity for a video conference. Without the integration with its OneController, programming the network is a manual task, according to Derek Granath, senior director of product management for Extreme.

The Skye for Business support is one of several enhancements Extreme is making to its SDN platform and part of a larger message from the company at Interop about how SDN is being embraced by enterprises. Company officials at the show are touting two particular SDN deployments that are using Extreme technology.

"SDN is applicable in the enterprise right now," Granath told eWEEK. "It's not just for cloud providers and service providers."

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) promise the ability to create more programmable, agile and dynamic networks that can help enterprises and service providers address the rapidly changing demands on their infrastructures driven by such trends as mobile computing, big data, social media and the cloud. The technologies take the control plane and various networking tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls and intrusion detection—off of networking hardware and put them into software. Network programming that traditionally takes weeks or months can now be done in minutes.

The integration of OneController with Skype for Business is an example of how SDN can work for the enterprise, according to Granath.

"This is important in the enterprise because 60 percent of enterprises … are looking to deploy Skype for Business or some other form of UC [unified communications]," he said.

Pascal Menezes, principal program manager for Skype for Business for Microsoft, said in a statement that by embracing the OpenDaylight Project, Extreme "is helping to simplify Skype for Business deployments, allowing customers to create more dynamic communication environments while reducing their costs and keeping users well connected. Opening up to the ODL development community places innovation where it counts."

OpenDaylight is one of several industry consortiums that are looking to create an open-source framework for SDN and NFV that can be leveraged by vendors to build their own products. Extreme joined OpenDaylight in June 2014.

In addition, Extreme officials said the company's NetSight SDN management software will support the Group-Based Policy (GBP) language being developed by OpenDaylight. Once the support is in place, NetSight users will be able to use consistent policies in multivendor networks. Extreme is demonstrating the capability at Interop across switches from both Extreme and Cisco Systems.

Extreme also is creating an online SDN apps store that will offer customers and partners SDN software, and is rolling out an SDN developer portal to help SDN software makers build and manage their applications in the Extreme app store. Extreme isn't the only vendor with an app store for SDN environments. Hewlett-Packard late last year launched its own app store that kicked off with eight applications, two of which were developed by HP and another six created by partners.

One of the two enterprise SDN deployments Extreme officials are talking about is in the town of Enfield, Conn. The town, which has a central IT infrastructure that supports schools, public works and emergency services, is using Extreme's technology to create an on-demand service portal that supports scheduling for the mobile labs in the schools, and to automate bandwidth allocation and prioritization for Enfield's systems.

The University of New England in Australia is using OneController and Extreme's OneFabric Connect software to automate the provisioning of the network and improve quality-of-service for its Skype for Business deployment.

Granath said there has been a lot of hype around SDN for the past several years, but it's resonating with enterprises.

"Everybody I talk to, whether it's a school or a data center or a major company, wants to hear about SDN," he said.