02/04/2015

By Marc Randall, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Avaya Networking


Part of the excitement of a career in the tech industry is that innovation is a given. There’s always something new on the horizon or in the labs – something that is guaranteed to be The NEXT BIG THING to which all kinds of attributes and expectations become attached. The downside of a career that thrives on technological advancements is deciding when and where to place your bets.

Software Defined Networking (SDN), while it’s been around for a couple years, is one of the latest technologies to reach what might be called SuperTech stage. Virtually every networking vendor has rushed an SDN solution to market to meet the demands of companies that threaten to vanquish the incumbent lest they fail to turn up with SDN soon. Others see ‘gold in them there hills’ with an opportunity to finally break into the networking fortresses built by a select few.

IT professionals widely vary in their expectations for SDN. For some, it’s about relieving network management issues; others, application performance, and still others, policy control or any other of more than a dozen issues. The bottom line, however, is finding a way out of the Iron Maiden of complexity that characterises the majority of networks today.

To bring SDN into an existing network and secure continued revenue, some vendors take the overlay approach. They add another protocol, another layer of software, possibly another layer of hardware–all of which further burdens the network. What you have is akin to Jenga, whereby one wrong move topples an increasingly precarious stack of blocks. Imagine if you had to manually remove and replace each of those blocks before finally selecting the one piece that would let you move to the next level – or not.

Fabric Connect technology enables automation and programmability all the way to the user edge – without unnecessary overlays, boxes and protocols.

SDN Fx is built on three fundamental tenets:

• An automated core that takes advantage of a single, network-wide Ethernet fabric to remove the need for manual configuration at each network hop; thus, reducing the potential for error and accelerating time-to-service.

• An open ecosystem that utilises standard fabric protocols married with open interfaces and open-source customisation tools, empowering IT to quickly respond to changing business requirements with precision and flexibility.

• An enabled edge that leverages fabric extension beyond the data center to the user edge, allowing applications, devices and users to simply connect anywhere along the network and interact seamlessly to create a more agile and productive business environment

This new approach has profound ramifications for the network simplicity and application performance that every IT person I know is seeking. Fabric Orchestrator is the first SDN controller embedded in a unified management instance and manages and orchestrates the Ethernet fabric as well as provides SDN Control to north- and southbound interfaces.

With its elastic extensibility, SDN Fx has particular significance for the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, healthcare environments – anywhere that the “edge” encompasses a growing array of devices and users in effectively any location.

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve moved a number of times. Most of the time my furniture has moved with me: lamps, TVs, sound system, electronic toothbrushes. I plug them into the electric socket and don’t ever wonder whether they’ll work when I turn them on. Wouldn’t that simplicity be great in your network?