Extreme's Universal Port Aims to Ease Routine Configuration - Page 2

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Apr 7, 2009
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"In addition to IP phones, we plan to use Universal Port for gaming machines," Boyer told Enterprise Networking Planet. "Years ago, we created a gaming VLAN on our network to make it easier for our students to have LAN gaming parties. Having those devices in their own VLAN also made it easier to manage their traffic." Although they have not yet put the pieces into place, Boyer expects to be able to use Universal Port to auto-configure the ports based on LLDP information or on the MAC prefix of the connecting consoles.

"We're also using Universal Port for loop detection and elimination, rather than spanning tree [the spanning tree protocol or STP], Boyer said. "We use Universal Port with Extreme's Loop Detection Protocol, Ethernet Automatic Protection Switching (EAPS), to stop a loop dead in its tracks, right on the offending port—and without the mess that STP would otherwise create.

"We then use EAPS to get sub-50ms failover times on our trunk/core links. Even with VoIP or UDP streams, there's no perceptible interruption when EAPS rings fail over or fail back. No one in the industry has anything like this," Boyer said.

While, in Boyer's words "we are barely scratching the surface of what Universal Port can do," he is nonetheless using it for a range of LAN maintenance chores.

"You can trigger Universal Port scripts based on port events and log events, which covers a lot of territory. If a NIC on my LAN is going bad and sending out a broadcast storm of mangled frames, I can use a Universal Port script to rate-limit the port or shut it down—and send me an alert. Ditto for any type of rx, tx, or collision errors I might see."

What's the overall affect of Universal Port technology on Boyer's workload? It's hard to quantify, he says. But given 150 IP phones and "all those gaming consoles"—configuring each port as to VLAN, QoS profile, etc., specific to the device that's plugged into it definitely adds up.

"Now extrapolate that further with students moving, and both employees and students coming and going, and the reclaim productivity/time savings is significant," Boyer said.

"Even more so, Universal Port basically gives us the ability to 'program' the switches to do things in ways that go beyond what the software and hardware engineers built into the devices. The real idea is that Extreme's engineers built the construct for the devices to be extensible, thereby becoming whatever each institution needs them to be," he concluded.

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