A-L to add 40 G modules to expand mesh strategy

Although the 40 Gigabit Ethernet world isn’t here yet, there are a number of organizations who either need that capability or want to prepare for it.

That’s why this month Alcatel-Lucent announced it will soon release a 40 GbE module for its 10 GbE OminSwitch 6900 top-of-rack switch, which will expand its data centre fabric strategy.

“We now can better serve real time applications with unmatched server to server low-latency high capacity bandwidth,” said Cliff Grossner, director of product marketing for Alcatel-Lucent’s enterprise division.

The fabric strategy allows the creation of what A-L calls “pods” of severs that can be linked with the OS6900 into a mesh. The addition of the modules allows those links to run at 40 Gbps.

Pods can be interlinked with an OS10,0000 core switch. With two OmniSwitch 10Ks a mesh can be created that supports 14,400 server-facing ports, Grossner said. The new modules allow traffic to run at 40 Gbps.

When released early next year the 40 GbE module will come in two versions: A hybrid 10G/40G unit with four SFP+ (10G) and two QSFP+ (40G) ports, and a 40G only version with three QSPF+ports.

One of the advantages of the combination is that it offers very low latency, Grossner said. On average latency can be as low as five milliseconds.

A number of organizations that need that today in the data centre core, he said, such as media houses.

The OS6900 comes in two versions: the 40-port X40 and the 20-port X20.

At the moment, Alcatel-Lucent [NYSE: ALU] uses Multipath Ethernet with MC-LAG to achieve its mesh capabilities. Next year, Grossner said, it will support Shortest Path Bridging and virtual chassis technology.

In the future, he added, the mesh will support in native Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet for storage.

One of the elements of A-L’s vision is to create a fabric that understands applications and that can be spread over wide area networks, Grossner said. When Shortest-Path Bridging is enabled it will allow the creation of virtual data centres. By leveraging the Virtual Fabric Profile capability that already comes in the A-L fabric, IT managers will be able to create quality of service and priority profiles of applications, which will allows for the automated orchestration of resources.

Alcatel-Lucent has been making more moves in data centre networking to keep up with Cisco Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., Brocade Communications Systems and others. It also makes branch switches as well as voice products.

As part of its efforts, two years ago it created a Canadian division headed by Tom Breneol. In a recent interview he said he is pleased with its progress, saying last year it had “double digit” growth in 2010 over 2009. This year, he said, will be a repeat.

Its biggest solution provider partners are Bell Canada and IBM Canada. Regional partners include SSP Telecom and Arcom.

In this country Breneol said the enterprise division of A-L is doing good in several verticals including healthcare, education and local government. It also has what he beleieves is a good presence among five of Canada’s biggest banks. And, traditionally, it has sold well to telecommunications carriers.

Looking ahead, he said the company will soon offer software as a service for a number of telecommunications services. Today A-L offers one-off hosted applications to meet indivdual customer requests. But, he added, the company needs to go beyond that.


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