Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, August 13, 2022

Extreme Networks Rolls Out High-End Switch, SDN Framework 

Upstart Extreme Networks rolled out a new software-defined network architecture and a high-end switch during this week's Interop conference in Las Vegas.

San Jose-based Extreme Networks claimed its BlackDiamond X8 offers "cloud-scale switching" using a new four-port to 100 Gb/sec line card for the modular switch. Overall switching capacity for the X8 modular switch ranges from 10.24 Tb/sec to 20.48 Tb/sec, allowing customers to scale up their networks as traffic grows. The new switch blade for the X8 has four ports running at 100 Gb/sec and uses CFP2 connectors, just like a number of other 100 Gb/sec switch modules announced this week. Using SR10 transceivers, switches can be up to 100 meters apart from devices, and using LR4 transceivers, distances can span up to 10 kilometers. Extreme Networks says it will support ER4 transceivers when they become available, allowing distances of up to 40 kilometers between the switches and the devices they connect to.

The new switch typifies a key trend in the networking sector toward scalable components that enable a highly virtualized network infrastructure.

Another trend is the adoption of software-defined network (SDN) architectures that help optimize network performance through increased virtualization. Extreme Networks said its X8 switch supports standard OpenFlow to work with third party or open source SDN controllers.

The company also touts the X8 as being capable of leveraging hybrid networks to handle simultaneous SDN and non-SDN deployments. The result is said to be faster connections between datacenters, through the network core, and out to the access edge.

The X8 switch also has Intel's dual-core 2 GHz Core i7 processor in it, allowing the switch to run software that performs other network functions alongside the ExtremeXOS network operating system, the company said.

Meanwhile, Extreme Network's latest SDN architecture seeks to define and control networks while distributing network smarts throughout the net infrastructure. On the wireless side, this network intelligence is designed to provide visibility and awareness of mobile devices and applications attached to the network. Features include real-time Wi-Fi reporting, locating and diagnostics. The company also claims its SDN framework speeds the provisioning and management of new network services.

This week's hardware and software rollouts seek to bolster Extreme Networks' strategy of combining high-end wired and wireless hardware operating within an intelligent software-defined architecture. Together, these network components could be used either as building blocks for intelligent datacenters or to allow mobile users to connect using the device of their choice.

Companies like Extreme Networks are also hoping to compete with market leaders like Cisco Systems by targeting the exploding mobile device market. For example, market researcher IDC estimates that global smartphone sales topped 1 billion in 2013.

Meanwhile, the BYOD (bring your own device) movement may be creating new opportunities as network managers are being forced to cope with complex user and device provisioning. One result has been the emergence of enterprise mobile device management systems required when employees are away from corporate networks.

To that end, Extreme Networks said its SDN architecture seeks to deliver unified management and analytics software running on top of, for example, 100 Gb/sec Ethernet or 802.11ac wireless networks.

Extreme Networks said its NetSight 6.0 management software along with OneFabric SDN Connect 2.0 software both ship in April. Also shipping in April are the 100 Gb/sec BlackDiamond X8 blade and 3800 series 802.11ac wireless access points.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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