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 avaya.com/vena or avaya.com/fabricconnect 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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