Brocade Communications Systems Inc. argues that while the datacenter network has seen a lot of innovation in recent years, the campus network has stagnated by comparison. The company is seeking to introduce some elements of datacenter-style network flattening to the campus network with its HyperEdge Architecture.
Innovation in the datacenter has been largely fueled by the emergence of various flavors of “fabric” network architectures, a flattening change necessitated by the need to move virtual machines and other workloads around the datacenter. But at the campus, Siva Valliappan, director of product management at Brocade, notes that networks are still being built in the same way they always have.
But the edge network is under pressure from an increasing number of devices connecting, and higher-requirement applications like voice and video over wireless is becoming a challenge at the edge.
“This architecture is now failing at the edge the same way it failed in the datacenter,” Valliappan said.
HyperEdge was first announced last year, promising a more datacenter-like edge network, with less hierarchy and a focus on Layer 2. The products supporting the strategy are now becoming mainstream in the company’s lineup.
This week, the company introduced a series of new offerings, including the ICX 6430-C Compact Switch, the ICX 6650 Swtich, and Brocade Mobility 1220, 1240, and 1250 wireless access points, all products that highlight HyperEdge capabilities.
The wired switches support multi-chassis trunking, which allows for a Layer 2 network without the need for the complexity and fragility of Spanning Tree. They also support distributed services, where the company’s entry-level edge switches can be managed by one of its premium high-end switches. This both simplifies the management of the network, and creates the opportunity to distribute more premium services from the “parent” switch to the subordinate switches.
On the wireless side, the access points include self-healing capabilities, and the ability to terminate user traffic on the access point itself, reducing network overhead and helping to deal with wireless device density challenges. For smaller campus networks with fewer than 24 access points, this self-terminating capability means the network doesn’t need a dedicated wireless LAN controller – the network can be setup with one of the access points acting as a virtual wireless controller.
The company’s goals with HyperEdge in the channel are twofold. First, as the campus network gets simpler, Valliappan said it follows that it’s more accessible to more solution providers. But its biggest interest is in getting is partners educated and enabled on HyperEdge, and creating some noise in the market about the new capabilities. While Fabric architectures in the datacenter have received significant attention in the market and the media, Valliappan feel that hasn’t been the case for the campus network. Brocade is counting on its partners to amplify its HyperEdge message, and to make that happen, enablement is a key focus, Valliappan said.
The value proposition for the channel is clear: Brcoade believes HyperEdge is transformational in the campus networking field, and will give its partners chances to meet customers’ changing needs, and introduce the opportunity for higher-margin network design services for both new opportunities and overhauls of existing networks.