The Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Fabric Connect

Avaya’s Fabric Connect technology offers a refreshing new approach to building networks, delivering an agile, and resilient solution that makes network configuration and service deployment simpler, easier, and faster.

Fabric Connect is an extended implementation of the IEEE/IEFT standards for Shortest Path Bridging (SPB).  It offers a full-service network virtualization technology that combines the best of Ethernet and the best of IP.  At its core, Fabric Connect automatically creates and maintains multi-path topology between nodes, with traffic always taking the most efficient route, optimizing network efficiency and application responsiveness.  But it also does much more.

Fabric Connect is a unique solution that offers a number of benefits that set it apart from competing offers.  The following list outlines what are generally thought of as the “Top 10” of the advantages Fabric Connect offers:

#10: Fabric Connect is more than just a Spanning Tree Replacement

The Fabric Connect technology is one of the most advanced network virtualization solution on the market today.  Going beyond the simple L2 multi-pathing offered by alternatives, Avaya has leveraged the extensibility of SPB to enable Fabric Connect to deliver the full breadth of services: Layer 2 and Layer 3 virtualized services, and fully integrated and optimized IP Routing and IP Multicast.  As a result, Fabric Connect enables businesses to migrate away from multiple legacy technologies – Spanning Tree, RIP and OSPF, BGP, perhaps MPLS, and also PIM – and to deliver all network services using a single unified and optimized technology – delivering unprecedented levels of network simplification.

#9: Fabric Connect offers native Data Center Interconnect capabilities

Businesses are seeking network virtualization solutions that allow them to maximize the resources that are deployed across their Data Centers, regardless of location.  Fabric Connect offers a single end-to-end service construct that can extend between multiple geographically dispersed Data Centers without requiring any overlay protocols or complex protocol stitching.  This enables resource sharing, seamless VM mobility, and true active-active connectivity.  Fabric Connect offers new levels of flexibility in network design.  It allows any logical topology to be built, whether it is Layer 2, Layer 3, or a combination of the two – anywhere that Ethernet connectivity is available.  Eliminate design constraints and have the freedom to build services wherever and whenever needed, on demand.

#8: Fabric Connect is for more than just the Data Center

While many network virtualization technologies are designed exclusively for the Data Center, Fabric Connect extends network-wide, providing a single end-to-end service delivery solution.  Most applications extend between Users and Servers, and it’s only logical that so should the virtualized network.  Fabric Connect allows you to extend the power of a single, contiguous virtualization solution across the Campus and Data Centers, and even out to Branch Offices.  End-to-end services can be deployed, where users and servers attach, increasing speed and agility.

#7: Fabric Connect scales to unprecedented levels

Most conventional virtualization technologies are based on a variation of traditional VLANs, which limits them to the hard ceiling of 4,096 unique IDs.  The explosion in Virtual Machine infrastructure dramatically increases the demand for unique services, and business are now finding this scale to be a serious limitation.  Fabric Connect utilizes a much larger 24-bit header, allowing it to scale up to 16 million unique services, supporting the evolution of applications and next-generation IT services.

#6: Fabric Connect offers lightening-fast re-convergence times

The elimination of overlay protocols, and consolidation to a single unified technology has a profound impact on the ability for the network to re-converge.  Fabric Connect customers are experiencing recovery times of less than 50 milliseconds – network-wide – for core, link, or node failures.  This represents a vast improvement over large OSPF-based Cores, and massive improvement when compared to average recovery times in PIM-based IP Multicast networks.  This means that applications typically don’t hang, and Users remain unaffected.

#5: Fabric Connect offers native multi-tenant capabilities

By it’s very nature of service-based encapsulation and isolation, Fabric Connect offers network segmentation and partitioning.  This allows for private networks to be set up quickly and easily, end-to-end, without requiring any additional overlay protocols.  These networks can reflect anything from different departments or entities in a traditional multi-tenant environment (say, an airport terminal or local government environment), to separating different types of user access (e.g. wireless guests from business executives), and even isolating traffic types for security or regulatory compliance (i.e. banking transactions for PCI DSS compliance, or medical imaging devices in a hospital in order to comply with HIPAA requirements).  The best part is the avoidance of complex configuration; this network isolation characteristic is native to Fabric Connect, and therefore it is deployed quickly and easily, via simple Edge-only configuration.

#4: Fabric Connect offers a seamless pathway to the hybrid private/public cloud

Avaya has a proud history of delivering open and interoperable solutions, and basing Fabric Connect on the Shortest Path Bridging standards means that we can continue this approach with the cloud services market.  Having actively proven multi-vendor interoperability through a series of public tests, we are now working with organizations such as the Cloud Ethernet Forum to ensure that as managed XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service) services are brought to market, the necessary interworking rules have already been agreed.  The advantage for the Enterprise is the ability to seamlessly integrate cloud-based services with their own private cloud infrastructure.

#3: Fabric Connect delivers PIM-free IP Multicast that is scalable, resilient, and easy to manage

IP Multicast is definitely making a comeback.  Many applications now leverage this once unfashionable technique; next-generation video surveillance, IPTV, digital signage, desktop imaging, financial applications and also some network overlays are reliant on effective IP Multicast.  Fabric Connect offers a scalable, reliable, and efficient way of supporting IP Multicast Routing, without the onerous requirement of configuring, deploying, and maintaining a complex PIM overlay.  With Fabric Connect, Multicast is enabled at the edge of the network, and its fully integrated capabilities take care of the rest, delivering scale and performance, and crucially maintaining network resiliency.  Offer a PIM-free IP Multicast solution anyone that is or has been responsible for delivering PIM-based applications, and expect to have a new best friend.

#2: Fabric Connect accelerates time-to-service through Edge-only provisioning

Fabric Connect enables service provisioning to be implemented solely at the edge of the network – eliminating error-prone and time-consuming network-wide configuration practices.  Adding services or changing existing services can now be completed in real-time, revolutionizing the conventional Change paradigm that typically mandates delays of weeks if not months, limited as it is by the serial nature of box-by-box, link-by-link configuration, and the risks induced when configuring the Core.  Outage-free Change is definitely a change for the better.

#1: (and finally) Fabric Connect is a proven foundation for your SDN strategy

When it comes to “SDN 1.0”, Avaya’s strategy is to eliminate network complexity, leverage abstraction in order to deliver agility, and to facilitate orchestration as a means of providing automation.  This delivers the simple and flexible network foundation that businesses crave.  Rather than adding overlays or additional protocols, and creating even more complexity than what we have today, Fabric Connect streamlines the network and enables automation though the likes of an OpenStack-based orchestration service.  This provides a simplified approach to automating today’s otherwise manual service delivery process, and provides a versatile evolution path for further Software-Defined Networking opportunities in the future.

In summary

Given the prevalence of virtualization within today’s Enterprise IT – server virtualization, storage virtualization, desktop virtualization – we’re seeing an increasing need for a truly effective end-to-end network virtualization solution.  We truly believe that Fabric Connect delivers the technology to make this happen.

Fabric Connect is a key element of Avaya’s Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) toolkit of complementary technologies and products, and it’s an important foundational component of many Avaya VENA solutions.  Solutions are, by their very definition, the combination of multiple elements, and genuinely effective solutions a typified by the seamless integration between elements.

Please visit us at or to find how Avaya have achieved this integration, and how Avaya can help solve your most challenging network issues, empowering you with new levels of operational efficiency.

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Is Your Approach to SDN Putting Lipstick on Your Networking Pig?

Your network is ugly. I know you agree, even if you don’t want to publicly admit it. If it looks like any of the organizations I’ve visited recently, your network is an aging hodgepodge of hardware and software, stitched together with antiquated protocols. Racks here. Wires there.

And, it’s breaking. Unfortunately for you, it’s breaking at the worst possible time.

Every day, the business puts more pressure on the network–new applications to run, more devices to attach, more bandwidth to provision and an endless stream of users to connect. Cloud-Mobile-Analytics-Social has forever transformed the speed of business, but also created a yawning agility gap between the speed of the business and the capability of the network.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is supposed to solve this challenge; however, while it does promise a simpler, more agile architectural approach, many prevailing models are incomplete.

Most effort has been focused on the data center. Many approaches advocate for the introduction of new hardware or software overlays to enable SDN, but the paradox is that these attempts to deliver greater simplicity have resulted in additional complexity.

Is transitioning from CLI scripting to open-source programming the answer? How many programmers will you need to get going? How much training will be required to ramp up and be able to maintain this new environment? The foundation is cracked, and it’s just lipstick on a pig unless it’s addressed.

Let’s look at some of the real-life woes I’m seeing and hearing:

Hospitals are being blanketed by mobile devices, in addition to highly-mobile, and often remote, care teams. Diagnostic equipment like X-ray machines come to the patient, producing results immediately accessible by a specialist four cities away, who consults with the radiologist to recommend an immediate course of treatment to the attending physician.

Compliance regulations require security of the information as it traverses the network. Distribution requires bandwidth, speed and flexibility. Securely connecting everyone and everything could be a nightmare all its own, but there’s the added concern of protecting the rest of the network from increased risk that more users and devices can introduce.

Further, care teams exemplify the mobile workforce trend, which brings rising costs for connecting and provisioning services–even while there’s pressure to cut IT costs.

Boosted by the Internet of Things, this scenario is playing out in multiple industries: manufacturing, retail, financial services and governments developing Smart Cities.

All this means that the issues around service configuration, identified as the number one pain highlighted by IT professionals in a recent Avaya survey, are unlikely to decrease.

That is, unless there’s a new approach to close the gap.

Avaya SDN Fx takes that unique approach to specifically deliver simplicity beyond the data center. We think networks should simply be a dynamic series of plug-in points, so when IT personnel connect anything to the network, the network automatically handles traditionally manual network functions.

Avaya’s fabric-based SDN approach extends from the data center to the edge, to automate much of the networking functionality through software–making it easier for devices to connect securely to the enterprise network.

Avaya SDN Fx helps companies avoid the vendor lock-in that ultimately ossifies many networks. The open ecosystem that underpins Avaya SDN Fx includes standard protocols, open interfaces and open-source customization tools that provide the flexibility and agility to meet the current and future use cases arising from the Internet of Things.

The bottom line: When your network is already breaking, going with a networking vendor for SDN simply because they’re already in the closet is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Companies need to take a step back and find a trusted partner who will help build SDN strategies around actual use cases, their challenges and what they want to achieve. It’s only then that an SDN strategy will reap true benefits.

The Forgotten Factor in IP Video Surveillance Deployments

Tens of thousands of people will stream into ISC West in Las Vegas this week in search of the latest and greatest security offering.

Few areas in the security space are as hot as video surveillance–hailed as critical in deterring crimes, increasing safety, and reducing losses.

In reality, IP video surveillance deployments–especially large deployments–pose a number of challenges. A huge amount of high-quality video footage must be streamed, secured, archived and be easily accessible. This is not easy, which is why customers are increasingly looking for validated, end-to-end solutions.

‘Surveillance at Scale’ is the answer: A validated, next-generation IP video surveillance system brought to you by a number of best-of-breed vendors: EMC, AXIS, Genetec and–wait for it–Avaya!

If you paused when you read the last name, you’re likely not alone. You’re probably thinking, “Avaya is not in the video surveillance business”–and you’re correct. Avaya does not sell surveillance cameras, video management software or storage (and, for the record, has no plans to). So what exactly does Avaya offer?

Before answering that question, let me digress. A number of years ago, Kellogg’s ran TV ads where they asked people what they thought Kellogg’s Rice Krispies were made from. A simple enough question, with an utterly obvious answer, but something very few people had ever considered.

What do Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and IP video surveillance have in common? Consider this question: What do you think IP video surveillance runs over?

Again, the answer is obvious, and yet little attention is directed toward the IP network.

That’s shocking, given the IP network is the foundational infrastructure that all video surveillance components run over. The most sophisticated surveillance system can be rendered useless if the network is not running right. Analysts predict up to 70 percent of surveillance issues (blurry images, lost footage etc.) may be attributed to the network.

That brings me back to Avaya and the ‘Surveillance at Scale’ solution.

Avaya offers a network optimized for video surveillance. Leveraging Fabric Connect (an enhanced implementation of shortest-path bridging), Avaya offers greater scalability, performance and simplicity than traditional IP network offerings.

Avaya provides a network that can scale to support tens of thousands of video streams simultaneously and ensures that video is always available (sub-second failover). We produce a set-it-and-forget-it network–install it, and never worry about the network that your IP video surveillance system runs on ever again.

For those attending ISC West, drop by the Avaya/EMC booth at the Axis Partner Pavilion (booth #14059) to learn more about ‘Surveillance at Scale.’

How Addison Lee’s IT Helps it Go the Extra Mile

British taxi company Addison Lee transports 10 million people a year in London alone. It attributes its success to combining the latest technology with traditional values of customer engagement. I got insight into how the company’s mission statement really shapes their business at a recent conference where Addison Lee CTO Peter Ingram was presenting.

“We recently won a tender with a 3-month rollout plan,” Ingram said. “That changed to a 48-hour rollout plan when the incumbent supplier got into financial difficulties. We literally had hours to deploy an end-to-end solution for 20,000 employees across the UK, including a new website and booking portal.”

Peter said setting up a brand new service overnight was possible due to Addison Lee’s commitment to investing in ‘great technology and great people.’

The company’s investment in Avaya Fabric Connect massively reduced the amount of manual configuration required to deploy new applications and services. As a result, a task that would have taken weeks with a legacy system was accomplished in a matter of hours.

Network downtime, even for maintenance, damages business. More so, perhaps, for Addison Lee, whose network handles 50,000 booking a week through the company’s mobile app, and a steady flow of phone bookings 24/7.

The new, Fabric-enabled network allows Addison Lee to upgrade or configure parts of the network in isolation without impacting overall service levels. When rolling out a new service, the network automatically configures distribution and core switches.

IT personnel simply focus on configuring edge devices, reducing the chance of human error. As a result, using Fabric Connect can save the IT department hours—if not days—of configuration time. New configurations are simpler, reducing the chance of outages that impact business agility and the bottom line.

Now that’s what I would call a well-oiled machine!

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