Enterasys looks to take on Cisco, HP in fabrics

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Enterasys Networks has unveiled a switching fabric designed to unify the data centre, campus and wired and wireless enterprise edge.

The company’s OneFabric is intended to allow customers to provision network resources that span the enterprise from a single management console. It’s also designed to flatten network tiers to simplify operations, enhance performance and reduce cost.

Enterasys is offering three access points into OneFabric: OneFabric Data Center, OneFabric Edge and OneFabric Security. This allows customers to implement the system into the environment where they have the greatest need for simplification and consistency, the company says.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is also offering a fabric. called FlexNetwork, that embraces the campus, branch and data centre. The company’s strategy is also intended to deliver common, consistent services and application performance across the entire enterprise.

Others, like Cisco Systems Inc.Juniper Networks and Brocade Communications Systems, are offering fabric switching options targeted predominantly at the data centre and cloud environments.

But current fabric architectures are complex and offer limited value, Enterasys asserts. They provide no end-to-end view of services, no unified optimization across all of the enterprise, require expensive and disruptive upgrades and are proprietary, the company says. Moreover, they require several management tools as opposed to a single station, and overprovision bandwidth instead of allocating a guaranteed amount, Enterasys claims.

Enterasys claims OneFabric is focused on the user and application, not the infrastructure. It leverages Enterasys’ heritage in policy-based user profiling, network access control and security. It also supports the company’s recently announced Isaac social media interface into Enterasys switch management.

“It’s very ambitious,” says Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “But there’s some merit to the vision. If you think of the concept of [desktop virtualization] and real-time communications it certainly does warrant the fabric needing to extend outside the data center. All of the other vendors focus on the infrastructure, how the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. Leading with manageability is the right strategy for [Enterasys].”

User, application and security policies can be administered and controlled through the OneFabric Control Center, which provides a central management station for the OneFabric environment. The control center includes integration with hypervisors from VMware Inc., Citrix Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for managing virtual machines in the data center.

OneFabric is intended to tighten integration into the workflows of an enterprise’s virtualization and storage teams so IT can automate operations and deliver on service level agreements, Enterasys says.

Challenges abound, though, in selling OneFabric into environments heavily populated with competitors’ gear. Enterasys has a fraction of the market share that Cisco and HP have in Ethernet switching, and the company needs to address how OneFabric fits into multivendor environments, Kerravala says.

(From Network World U.S.)

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