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BLOG: Datacentre networking: The awkward teenage years

Andre Kindness | Feb. 20, 2013
There are fantastic products available but the offerings remain immature

-Are moody. Overlay Transport Virtualisation (OTV), Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA), Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN), and others are new technologies that have little mileage and can be unpredictable or fail to even work in certain environments. Some customers said they rolled back some of their deployments because the technology was just too temperamental.

-Feel isolated. Many of the datacentre networking components from a single solution are tightly interwoven with each other; however, few vendors have provided interfaces that enable the network subsystem to share stateful information with another subsystem. The cliques are alive and well within the datacentre.

-Act self-absorbed. Networks will encompass both virtual and physical aspects. This means policies, control, and network services have to go past the last physical edge port. Virtual network functions belong to the network domain, except most solutions don't offer visibility, control, or management of the virtual network. This overly inward focus will likely thwart I&O from realising true benefits of a next-gen datacentre.

Thus, no company took a leadership position in our datacentre networking Forrester WaveTM. However, Cisco and HP lead the Strong Performers category. Each of the Strong Performers provided capabilities in two or more of the five S's. Cisco and HP separated themselves from the pack with a complete road map and vision toward delivering VNI functionality. For example, not only does Cisco offer the largest breadth of hardware products and features, but its offerings also allow I&O professionals to start thinking about enabling hybrid clouds. HP takes a different approach and focuses on driving simplicity into operations, synchronising virtual and physical networks, and integrating networking into the orchestration layer.

Only because of a late start, Alcatel-Lucent, Extreme Networks, and Juniper are rapidly building out their datacentre portfolios. Each vendor has a smaller set of options because they entered the game much later than Cisco. The Contenders - Arista, Avaya, and Brocade - all have strong products for aspects of the datacentre but didn't address the full requirements of the Forrester Wave's composite organisation.

This doesn't mean that one of the vendors won't be best suited for your area. The Forrester Wave is a living document that can be altered to fit your goals. By adjusting weights of the criteria, I&O professionals can see a different set of results that will rank vendors according to their own business technology strategy.


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