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Aruba's 8400 campus LAN switch gets the once-over

This week, bloggers look into the Aruba 8400 campus LAN switch, automation versus orchestration and culture changes needed for network agility.

Drew Conry-Murray, writing in Packet Pushers, dissected the new Aruba 8400 campus LAN switch, for core and aggregation, aimed at unseating the Catalyst 6500. By adding core and aggregation capabilities to its campus LAN switch offering, Aruba signals it wants to compete at every point in the network from branch to campus, Conry-Murray said, adding he considers the move a "bold play" for a company typically associated with WLAN. Even though the vendor already has a range of access and aggregation switches, the addition of the new campus LAN switch opens up opportunities for the company to compete more successfully with its own access switches and access points.

According to Conry-Murray, the 8400 switch comes with a new operating system-- ArubaOS-CX -- derived from a Linux base, as well as a network analytics engine for monitoring and automation. Aruba cites throughput of 19.2 Tbps, with the switch equipped with 256 10 GbE ports, 64 40 GbE ports, or 48 40 and 100 GbE ports and support for Layer 2 and Layer 3 protocols such as VLAN and OSPF. Conry-Murray commended the modular, programmable OS capabilities but cautioned that on its initial launch the product will likely need debugging. "Core switches are really hard to dislodge because ... they're core. Just like the Arc Reactor that keeps Tony Stark alive, a core switch powers critical business applications, and you mess with it at your peril," he added.

Read more of Conry-Murray's thoughts on the new Aruba 8400 campus LAN switch.

What is the difference between automation and orchestration?

Ivan Pepelnjak, writing in ipSpace, weighed the differences between automation and orchestration. Pepelnjak defines automation as, "elimination of well-defined repeatable manual tasks," while orchestration is a "grouping of automated tasks in coordinated workflows."

Pepelnjak gave some concrete examples. In his view, enabling an interface, configuring a VLAN on a switch or creating interface descriptions would be classified as automation. On the other hand, building a VLAN service through enablement of edge interfaces, mapping VLAN to VXLAN or testing out connectivity are all instances of orchestration. Pepelnjak added a more fundamental example: Squeezing grapes is automation whereas making wine is orchestration.

Dig deeper into Pepelnjak's thoughts on automation versus orchestration.

Cultural changes needed to achieve network agility

Andrew Lerner, an analyst at Gartner, said the networking industry's embrace of culture change is more important than ever as underlying business precepts continue to shift. "Digital business innovates at the speed of software, while networking has innovated at the speed of hardware, which results in an ever-widening gap between business needs and network capabilities," Lerner said.

What's needed, he said, is to move networking from fragile to agile. Instead, many organizations have pursued network incrementalism, which slows that process. Lerner recommends that managers shift to key performance indicators to overcome resistance to change and reward teams for improving network agility. "[Infrastructure and operations] leaders must change how they recruit, measure and reward team performance, and how they design, build and operate networks to deliver the required agility," Lerner added.

Explore more of Lerner's thoughts on network agility.

Next Steps

Exploring features of Aruba and HPE campus switches

SDN and achieving network orchestration

Network controllers enable agility

Dig Deeper on Campus area network