Alcatel-Lucent Improves Multimedia Fluency

New switches debut as networking vendor improves contextual management of data flow.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Mar 16, 2012
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Networks aren't just dumb pipes anymore.

The need for the network to be aware of the traffic it is carrying and to adjust appropriately is key in the modern world, where network traffic is mission critical. To that end, Alcatel-Lucent is now debuting a new switch and an enhanced version of its Application Fluency initiative.

"Our converged network solutions for 2012 are focused around BYOD, operational convergence and cloud adoption," Cliff Grossner, Senior Director, Networks Solutions Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent told InternetNews.com. "That drives specific requirement for more bandwidth and better quality of service controls with security."

In terms of delivering more bandwidth, Alcatel-Lucent is now debuting the new OmniSwitch 6450 LAN switch. The 6450 is a 1 Gigabit Ethernet switch that will be available in 10, 24 and 48 port models, including 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks. The 6450 complements the 6800 top of rack switch that can be enabled with 40 Gigabit Ethernet.

Looking beyond hardware, improved quality of service and security comes by way of the User Network Profile capability.

"So when a device is connected to the network, the device can be recognized by its MAC port and its traffic stream," Grossner said. "So it's recognized not just by switch port, but from the actually traffic stream."

As such, if there are multiple devices that come in through the same switch port, Alcatel-Lucent can treat each device stream individually. With the device visibility, the Alcatel-Lucent system can then do a lookup and attach a profile to the device for management.

The system can also leverage Windows authentication now as well.

"So if I attach my laptop to the network, the device gets authenticated but then as I do a Windows login that packet stream will now also be inspected," Grossner said. "The switch at the access layer can see that I did a domain login, and then what happens is a new profile can be attached specifically for me."

With User Network Profiles, quality of service for specific users and services can also be measured to ensure the best experience. Traffic quality of service is improved for multimedia traffic as well.

"With Multimedia Fluency we want the network to be able to understand specific applications and the first one we focused on is SIP," Grossner said.

He explained that if a user connects a laptop and starts a SIP client for a voice call, the access layer switch will parse the SIP and classify the traffic to provide quality of service policy. The traffic can also be marked, so the flow of traffic throughout the network can be treated with the appropriate quality of service profile.

"It's an end-to-end ability to affect Quality of Service that is transparent to the user, based on the policies set by an IT administrator," Grossner said.

Alcatel-Lucent's system can now also record SIP traffic characteristics to help further diagnose and improve service levels. The visibility into network service is being delivered by a new dashboard in the Alcatel-Lucent OmniVista management platform.

Underpinning Alcatel-Lucent's Application Fluency is its AOS network operating system that runs across the OmniSwitch portfolio. In 2010, the company began to shift the underlying bare metal operating system on which AOS is based to Linux.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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