Alcatel-Lucent to take on Cisco, VMware in crowding SDN field

Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise division this week jumped into the SDN market with a strategy to fortify products to enhance network programmability and virtualization.

The company is augmenting its Application Fluent Network strategy with a software-defined networking plan that goes beyond application awareness and network configuration to full automation and real-time tuning to improve user experience and operational routines. Alcatel-Lucent's Application Fluent Network includes routers and switches designed to adjust and optimize forwarding for real-time applications running LANs, WANs and in data centers.

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Application Fluent Network detects virtualized applications and applies a profile-driven policy to enable a network to adjust to virtualized traffic in order to meet service quality demands, Alcatel-Lucent says. Policies can include individual user rules, and the type of device and applications being used. When combined with the knowledge of the entire network, Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitches can dynamically adjust network access priority and bandwidth allocation based on required service levels, the company says.

SDN-focused enhancements to the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitches' Application Fluent Networking capabilities include:

" Increased programmability through a set of RESTful APIs designed to enable applications, external controllers and orchestration platforms such as OpenStack and CloudStack to support OmniSwitches;

" Improved application profiling, and new application performance analysis of virtual machine connectivity to react to network conditions in real-time;

" Enhanced global control through identification and automatic service activation of each networked device.

Another aspect of the SDN strategy is VMware certification of Alcatel-Lucent's OmniVista 2500 Virtual Machine Manager. By being classified as VMware Ready, OmniVista 2500 can provide real-time and historical visibility of the enterprise data center network and the location of VMware virtual machines within the network to make adjustments in response to changes in virtualized workloads within and between data centers, Alcatel-Lucent says.

These enhancements will emerge on the OmniSwitch 10000 and 6900 in the first half of 2013, Alcatel-Lucent says. On tap for the OmniSwitch 6900 in second half of next year are 12x10Gbps FibreChannel/Ethernet modules for the switch; FibreChannel gateway and FibreChannel-over-Ethernet support; and pre-loaded and performance-optimized applications for the switch in data center racks. This will allow for software control of storage traffic in addition to Ethernet LAN and IP data.

Alcatel-Lucent says it will support OpenFlow APIs for SDNs in 2014. Company officials also say Alcatel-Lucent will support multivendor SDN controllers rather than developing its own.

Alcatel-Lucent says CandIT Media, a digital media company based in Belgium, is using the company's OmniSwitch 6900 and Application Fluent Networking features in an enterprise-scale SDN to handle large traffic peaks, data storage and real-time file transfer requirements for media flows.

The vendor will go up against Cisco with its Cisco ONE products, VMware with its recent Nicira acquisition, and Big Switch and its partners, as well as IBM and HP in the OpenFlow camp in trying to attract customers to its SDN implementation.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Tags VMwareciscosoftwareData Centervirtualizationhardware systemsalcatel-lucentOpenFlowConfiguration / maintenanceLAN & WANNVNetwork VirtualizationSDNssoftware-defined networkingprogrammability

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