Extreme's new SDN Platform raises the bar

By Martin May, regional director, Extreme Networks

Johannesburg, 28 Jul 2014
Read time 3min 10sec

Back in the late 1980s and early '90s the industry migrated from mainframe computers to client server and other types of distributed systems. By moving away from the concept of one central agent, and distributing 'intelligence' outside of the computer room to the edge of the emerging networks, the fundamentals of the computer industry were changed forever.

By disconnecting the intelligence from the physical source, the world was presented with a new model that was able to meet increasing demands for faster information flows and immediate access to new services within the enterprise. New ground rules were established, says Martin May, regional director, Extreme Networks.

Today, this philosophy has taken a leap forward and is evident in the 'bring your own device' (BYOD) phenomenon that continues to transform the enterprise and the fabric of enterprise computing. It is a revolution that is gaining momentum as 'intelligence' is increasingly abstracted across the entire network.

One of the keys to the perpetuation of this revolution is software defined networking (SDN). SDN technology allows network services to be managed through the abstraction of lower level functionality. This is done by decoupling the system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane).

SDN's embedded automation features are able to dramatically improve application delivery for dynamic environments leveraging cloud, virtualisation, server/storage consolidation and the consumerisation of IT - a business model that is growing exponentially in value and authority across the world.

It's a concept that has been the subject of pioneering work by Extreme Networks which has recently launched its own SDN platform leveraging the OpenDaylight (ODL) open source project.

Extreme's SDN platform is designed to promote community-led innovation and enable customers to gain unprecedented value from their networks - without the need for costly forklift software and hardware upgrades common to previous generations of computing technology.

So confident is Extreme in its technology that all hardware and software products currently shipping are compatible with its new SDN platform. What's more, over 10 million SDN-ready ports are in the marketplace and more than 40 established ecosystem partners stand ready to accelerate value and innovation.

What are the key benefits of the Extreme Networks' SDN platform?

From a service provider perspective, it's designed to help simplify the migration of existing networks to the new model. In this light, it will make it easier to orchestrate data centres and provide networking services to clients while preserving the integrity of the open programme interface (API) provided by ODL.

The ODL API promotes a completely open, standards-based environment, which means customers do not have to do anything to their networks beyond installing the SDN controller which is at the heart of Extreme's SDN strategy.

This controller also raises the SDN bar through its advanced network management, network access control, application analytics and wireless controller technology, allowing Extreme Networks to differentiate through new levels of expertise in its SDN orchestration capability. Analytics are especially important in SDN because users need visibility at the application and network levels.

Looking to the future, there is little doubt that Extreme's SDN platform characterised by open APIs will transform networks, adding new layers of operational efficiency through customisation and innovation. Watch out for entries in the Extreme Networks' SDN Innovation Challenge, a global-wide competition with prizes for applications that make the most creative use of the new SDN platform.

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