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ALE introduces Intelligent Fabric in switches

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's Intelligent Fabric handles standard networking configuration tasks.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise introduced automation technology in its switches to reduce the manual labor in network operations

Called Intelligent Fabric (iFab), the technology is in a firmware upgrade available starting this week for the OmniSwitch 6900 and 10K lines. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) plans to add iFab to OmniAccess wireless LAN (WLAN) switches by the end of the year.

IFab is designed for top-of-rack and data center and converged campus core switches, according to ALE. The fabric is managed through the OmniVista 2500 management system.

The technology eases the complexity of installing an ALE switch by automating standard networking configuration tasks. The product also adjusts network configurations to changes, such as moving virtual machines or servers or adding switches or a WLAN.

ALE offering services designed to entice enterprises

IFab has "useful capabilities" for enterprises, analyst Mike Fratto of Current Analysis said. ALE, which has a tiny share of the global switch market, is trying to entice companies with services designed to help them migrate from another vendor.

"Regardless of market share, it has some good technology," Fratto said. "[But] so do its competitors."

IFab lets companies build a compact networking infrastructure. The technology can scale up to 480 server-facing ports. "For many customers, that's pretty much all you need," said Joe Raccuglia, ALE senior director of solutions marketing.

IFab maintains an understanding of the physical and logical topology of a network. The information is used in reconfiguring security, bandwidth and traffic priority when virtual machines are moved or network devices are added.

The technology has "self-healing" capabilities that reroutes traffic following the failure of a network component, link or node.

Laying the groundwork for SDN implementation

IFab prepares ALE switches for use in software-defined networking environments. The product can be integrated with an OpenFlow controller to let the latter manage business application requests for bandwidth or quality of service.

OpenStack support is provided through a plug-in.

ALE introduced in late March the OmniSwitch 6900-Q32, a high-density data center switch. The product includes a hardware-based gateway for Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) overlays. VXLANs are used in scaling out Layer 2 and Layer 3 services within cloud-computing environments. The 6900-Q32 has a list price of $35,000.

ALE plans to demonstrate iFab at the Interop IT conference in Las Vegas April 27-May 1.

ALE was formed in 2014 when telecom supplier Alcatel-Lucent sold its enterprise unit to industrial investment company China Huaxin Post & Telecommunication Economy Development Center. Alcatel-Lucent, which Nokia expects to acquire in the first half of next year, retains a 15% minority stake in the business.

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