Extreme Networks, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, has been delivering high performance, converged Ethernet network solutions to enterprises since 1996. These networks support data, voice and video for enterprises and service providers, and are used by customers that range from large, distributed global manufacturers to universities, school districts, premier vacation resorts and hotels, federal and local government agencies and hospitals and medical clinics. The company operates in more than 50 countries, and provides wired and wireless secure LANs, data center infrastructure and Service Provider Ethernet transport solutions that are complemented by global, 24x7 service and support. The company has garnered a number of industry awards in recent years, including Network Computing Magazine (U.K.) Network Infrastructure Product of the Year Winner (2009), InfoWorld Magazine (U.S.) Technology of the Year Award (2007), Frost & Sullivan Product Line Strategy Award (2005) and a Best of Show award from the Networld+Interop conference for five years in a row.
Extreme Networks provides enterprise networking solutions in several categories: switching systems supporting converged networks, including the Black Diamond, Summit, and Alpine families; the ReachNXT port 10/100 Fast Ethernet port extenders; the Summit WM and Altitude wireless network platforms; the Sentriant family of network security appliances; the ExtremeXOS extensible software foundation for converged networks, including support for IPv6; the ExtremeWare network operating system, which supports comprehensive security, Widgets, which are published scripts, rule sets or other aids to aid with network deployment, and EpiCenter, a full-featured network management tool.
Widgets are organized into four categories:
- Deploy: to assist with the deployment of network devices
- Monitor: for monitoring the health of your network
- Operate: to handle ongoing network events automatically
- Optimize: for network performance tuning.
Each of these categories includes modules to address specific network challenges, with each module including one or more widgets and the related documentation. Example modules include a VoIP overlay, traffic imbalance detection, power conservation, and IPv6 configuration. Widgets are archived at the Widget Central site.
Extreme Networks primary network management suite, EPICenter, is a full-featured network element management platform, providing IT/network administrators with full visibility into the status of their network and the location and state of attached Ethernet switching devices. EPICenter is based on Java technology and can be used on many software platforms, including MS Windows, Unix/Solaris and Linux. The product incorporates every element of the converged enterprise network, including LAN, wireless LAN, voice and video devices. EPICenter discovers and configures a wide array of network devices, including Ethernet switches, access points and IP phones. It allows the network manager to easily view the entire physical and logical topology of the network, and to rapidly make changes across the network, such as Quality of Service (QoS) and Virtual LAN (VLAN) configurations. EPICenter also makes use of highly flexible scripting technologies to auto configure, authenticate and provision services, and can also detect and send an email or SMS to someone should a device become disconnected or malfunction.
This network management solution is built around four architectural objectives. "Operational Simplicity" includes an intuitive user Windows interface that includes a topology view that displays every element of the network, and how they are connected in both Layer 2 and Layer 3. This includes flexible scripts and macros that help users configure multiple devices concurrently with minimal administrator intervention. The "Voice Class Availability" area provides a notification of the health and status of the network, and includes an alarm manager that provides detailed notification for any events, plus real-time statistics for multiple ports and devices. "Comprehensive Security" provides multiple features that control and monitor the security features on Extreme Networks products, plus additional tools for VLAN Management, IP/MAC address determination, and security operations. The "Service Extensibility" area provides a third-party integration framework, with support for Avaya communications systems, and any devices that are running a MIB-II-compatible SNMP agent.
These integration capabilities are demonstrated in the Universal Port Manager feature. This application is a connection-management framework that performs dynamic switch configuration as devices connect to a port. It supports the discovery of connected devices via Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) and LLDP-MED (Media Endpoint) extensions and authenticates via 802.1x technology. This application is applicable to any device capable of providing a trigger event such as an LLDP or 802.1x message, and can execute scripts based upon events such as link up or link down on a particular port. In addition, you can add or remove VLANs from a port, modify QoS parameters for a port, and change speed and duplex settings for a port, all based on the type of device being attached.
For example, the Voice-over-IP Universal Port Provisioning Module is comprised of three widgets which were designed to be deployed through the EPICenter Universal Port Manager: LLDP Device Detection Widget, User Authentication Widget, and the Avaya Phone Enabled with 802.1x and LLDP Widget. The widgets are triggered on the detection of a phone being connected or disconnected from the network. Users can select, based on the type of VoIP device detection, the correct widget for installation on the edge ports of an ExtremeXOS switch, with service settings tailored to ensure uniform VoIP quality of service delivery.
Further details on the Extreme Networks solutions can be found at http://extremenetworks.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.
Article copyright 2009 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.