Alcatel-Lucent Announces Copper Connectivity and SPB Interoperability

Alcatel-Lucent is growing its portfolio of Application Fluency-enabled switches.

The Application Fluent Network is an architectural approach that Alcatel-Lucent first announced in 2010 and has been steadily growing ever since.

Today Alcatel-Lucent is adding new connectivity options to the OmniSwitch 6900 top-of-rack switch. First announced in April 2011, the 6900 platform only had optical interfaces for 10 GbE before being expanded with 40 GbE networking modules. It now also offers copper-based 10GBaseT options.

Cliff Grossner, senior director of product marketing, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the copper-based OmniSwitch 6900 has the same chassis as the existing 6900. One differentiator is that the copper version is not set up with an optical transceiver. The other difference between the copper and optical versions is latency. Latency on the optical switch is rated at sub one second, while the copper version has latency rated at sub four seconds. Additionally, power consumption for the copper version of the switch is “a bit higher,” according to Grossner.

OmniSwitch 6450L

The enterprise and data center shift to Gigabit Ethernet speeds doesn’t always happen in a straight line. As it turns out, enterprises don’t always have to buy a GbE switch port immediately, as there are still some use cases where Fast Ethernet (FE) makes sense.

That’s where the a new version of the OmniSwitch 6450 switching platform comes into play.  The OmniSwitch 6450 first debuted in March of 2012, as a 1GbE access switch with 10GbE uplinks.

It is now being supplemented with the 6450L, a light version of the same switch.

Heitor Faroni, product marketing manager at Alcatel-Lucent, explained that what makes the switch “light” is its licensing. With the the 6450L, FE becomes 1GbE ports when enabled as a licensed software upgrade

The 6450L will be available in both 24 and 48 port models, both of which are only a 1 RU chassis.

Shortest Path Bridging

The Alcatel-Lucent switching portfolio is enabled for the IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) standard. Alcatel-Lucent will demonstrate interoperability with other vendors this week at Interop.

SPB is a replacement for Spanning Tree and is a competitor to TRILL (Transparent Interconnection for Lots of Links), which is backed by Cisco and Brocade, among others.

Edgard Vargas, product marketing manager for enterprise networks at Alcatel-Lucent, explained that the Interop demo will feature multiple vendors, including HP and Avaya, showing SPB in action in an interoperable way.

The system enables fully automated provisioning from end-to-end, across the heterogenous vendor network.

Vargas emphasized that SPB is a bridging technology and, as such, an overlay protocol like VXLAN can run on top of it. VXLAN is a key protocol for enabling Software Defined Data Centers. It got its start in 2011 with help from Cisco, VMware, and Citrix.

“The whole connection with SPB is done so that the complexity is all hidden,” Vargas said.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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