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Alcatel-Lucent switch gateway boosts virtual, physical network speed

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has introduced a switch gateway in its latest high-density OmniSwitch that improves data throughput between virtualized applications and a VXLAN.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise introduced a high-density data center switch aimed at making virtualized applications available faster within a network fabric.

The OmniSwitch 6900-Q32 unveiled this week provides 32 ports of 40 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or up to 104 ports of 10 GbE. The product has double the capacity and half the latency of other switches in the OmniSwitch 6900 family.

The 6900-Q3's higher performance is due to a hardware-based gateway for virtual extensible LAN (VXLAN) overlays, which are used in scaling out Layer 2 and Layer 3 services within cloud-computing environments. The product, which has a list price of $35,000, can be used as either a top-of-rack or end-of-row switch.

"With this announcement, Alcatel-Lucent is introducing new switches, but it's also looking to provide its customers with a relatively simple network fabric that delivers faster provisioning and business agility in support of virtualized applications," IDC analyst Brad Casemore said.

Switch gateway brings faster data movement

The switch gateway provides faster throughput of data between applications running on a server rack and a VXLAN. The interconnect presents "a true interface between the physical and virtualized networks," said Edgard Vargas, product manager for the OmniSwitch 6900 family.

In general, switch vendors are providing VXLAN hardware capabilities in products based on the Broadcom Trident II chipset, which is designed to work well with the network overlay, said Mike Fratto, analyst for Current Analysis.

For Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, VXLAN support is "critical," because integration with VMware's popular NSX overlay is pending, said Fratto. NSX is more advanced than VXLAN, which is open technology developed by VMware, Arista Networks and Cisco, experts say.

The latest OmniSwitch, like others in the family, has built-in intelligence that automates the process of connecting a new virtualized application to a VXLAN, said Heitor Faroni, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise director of product marketing.

Automation: The market differentiator

The auto-configuration feature differentiates the OmniSwitch 6900 family from competing products from Cisco and Juniper Networks, Fratto said. The vendor hopes the feature will increase its small share of the U.S. switch market.

"ALE's challenge is going to be gaining market share and getting enterprises to switch to ALE from another vendor," Fratto said. "I think they have a good start so far."

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is a stronger competitor in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2014, Alcatel-Lucent sold the subsidiary to industrial investment company China Huaxin Post & Telecommunication Economy Development Center. Alcatel-Lucent retains a 15% minority stake in the business.

Next Steps

Integrating virtual, physical networking

Solving the VLAN problem with VXLAN

Dig Deeper on Network application performance