Extreme's Dense Summit X770 Switch Targets Big Data

by Jeffrey Burt

Leveraging Broadcom's new Trident II chip, Extreme's 1U switch can fit 104 10GbE or 32 40GbE ports.

Extreme Networks is growing out its Open Fabric data center portfolio with a highly scalable and high-density switch aimed at big data environments.

Extreme officials on Nov. 13 unveiled the Summit X770 top-of-rack switch, which offers 104 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 32 40GbE ports in a 1U (1.75-inch) form factor. The system also has a low latency of less than 600 nanoseconds, support for the TRILL Layer 2 standard for lossless performance and improved resiliency, and support for the OpenStack cloud technology and OpenFlow protocol for software-defined networks.

The Summit X770 also can be used as a core switch or edge switch in the data center, and is compatible with existing 1GbE, 10GbE, and 40GbE Summit switches from Extreme, making it easier for organizations to drop these switches into their existing environments.

The key for Extreme is to offer as much bandwidth as possible, which will be increasingly important as the amount of data being generated continues to ramp as more devices, sensors and systems connect to the network, according to Todd Acree, director of product marketing at Extreme.

"Networks are really trying to keep in front of the data [deluge]," Acree told eWEEK. "Enterprises and service providers can't have any downtime in their networks and data centers. … Scalability is the key to networking."

The Summit X770 is the latest in a string of new switches unveiled in recent weeks by a range of vendors, including Cisco Systems, Cumulus Networks and Arista Networks. Some of the networking moves came in the days leading up to Cisco's Nov. 6 launch of its Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which was fueled by its "spin-in" venture Insieme and included its new family of Nexus 9000 switches.

Also fueling the trend of news releases was Broadcom's release of its Trident II silicon, which is optimized for 10/40G and supports the VXLAN standards. It enabled Extreme to bring the kind of density it did to the Summit X770, Acree said.

"Everyone in the switching industry has been waiting for this silicon," he said. "It lets me build into a 1RU device more stuff into a single box."

It also was important to give organizations as much flexibility as possible, he said. Like Extreme's other hardware, the new switch runs the company's ExtremeXOS operating system, is stackable with other Extreme switches and can be managed with other switches as a single entity. It supports copper, fiber, power-over-Ethernet (PoE) and PoE+, and can let organizations migrate from 1GbE to 10GbE to 40GbE within a rack.

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, said in a blog post on the Network World site that Extreme's X770 "is an optimal switch for 'leaf–spine' configurations, which is important for big data analytics. The concept of consolidated or virtual networks isn’t ideal for big data. This type of application requires high bandwidth and low latency. The compute stack for big data normally isn't virtualized because of performance demands, so it wouldn't make sense to do so with the network. The leaf–spine architecture allows for rapid scale out while maintaining wire speed and low latency."

Big data will continue to be a focus for Extreme as more companies look for ways to not only collect and store the data being generated, but also to analyze it and act on it, Acree said. Gartner analysts in September said that a survey found that 64 percent of organizations are investing or plan to invest in big data technology this year, a jump over the 58 percent that said the same thing in 2012.


This article was originally published on Wednesday Nov 13th 2013