The average smart phone user uses only a small percentage of the total features accessible to them. Similarly, many network users have little idea of the full functionality of their network. This is according to Pete Nel, Business Development Executive for Extreme Networks at Duxbury Networking.  

“Are you leveraging your Extreme Fabric Connect network to its full potential? With networking requirements changing rapidly, there might be features that are more relevant today, than when you first deployed your network,” he says.

10 things you should know about Fabric Connect

  1. It is based on enhanced Shortest Path Bridging (IEEE 802.1Q-2018 clause 27/IETF 6329).

  2. One control plane for any type of network service.

  3. All services are only ever configured at the Fabric edge and can optionally be dynamically provisioned as users and devices connect to the network through NAC.

  4. Services extend and retract as users and devices connect and disconnect from the network.

  5. Fabric infrastructure is completely self-forming and self-provisioning.

  6. Offers scalable, secure multi-tenancy and network segmentation with ease.

  7. Stealth topology prevents the use of IP scanning and ensures true isolation between services.

  8. Offers the simplest, most scalable and most resilient multicast without PIM/DVMRP.

  9. Extends network-wide from data centre to remote branch.

  10. Is field-proven with thousands of global deployments in the most mission-critical environments (nuclear power plants, air traffic control, hospitals) with fabrics networks that literally span the globe.

Some features of Fabric Connect that make it particularly attractive include auto-sense ports, zero touch on-boarding overview, and advanced network security.

Fabric Connect’s auto-sense ports enable switch ports to auto-detect what is connected to it and provision it dynamically without any manual intervention. The value of this includes:

  • Simple automation

  • True plug and play deployments.

Zero touch on-boarding overview enables Fabric Connect devices to on-board to either the Extreme Management Centre or ExtremeCloud IQ management systems though a secure on-boarding service that is dynamically established. This results in:

  • Simplified deployment

  • Eliminating the need for technical staff to be physically on-site for new hardware deployment.

Traffic separation is an essential component to network security. Fabric Connect offers the following capabilities:

  • Service separation/segmentation: Fabric Connect Layer 2/3 VSNs are isolated by design. They run as ships in the night over the Fabric infrastructure. This isolation even allows for overlapping IP/MAC addresses between VSNs

  • Address separation is provided between the access and core. User/device MAC addresses are completely hidden from the core of the network

  • Routing separation: Layer 3 VSNs offer fully segmented routing tables at scale.

Stealth networking refers to the use of Ethernet Switched Paths to forward traffic, which provides strong inherent security and prevents the use of IP scanning to discover the network topology. Also, because IS-IS runs directly over Ethernet, there are no IP addresses anywhere in the core. This means:

  • The prevention of lateral movement through concealment of the core network topology

  • Without IP in the aggregation/ core, IP scanning techniques commonly used by hackers won’t work.

Fabric Connect is suitable for use by data centres, service providers, Campus Edge networks, and branches.

Fabric Connect for data centres

Fabric Connect allows:

  • Simplification of virtual machine mobility by stretching Layer 2 VLANs within and between data centres

  • Simplification of data centre interconnect by enabling active/active, full mesh connectivity

  • Simplification of multi-tenant and micro-segmented networks

  • Deployment over any physical topology

  • Dynamic auto-attach features for ESX, Hyper-V and KVM-based hypervisor environments

  • East/West and North/South traffic optimisation to reduce latency and provide an enhanced quality of experience for critical applications.

Fabric Connect virtualised services

The key benefits of Fabric Connect virtualised services are:

  • Fabric Connect provides the entire suite of today’s Layer 2 and Layer 3 (IPv4/6) connectivity services, but implements them in a far simpler way than traditional networks

  • All Fabric Connect services are based on a single control plane (IS-IS)

  • Users, IoT and applications reside in Virtualised Service Networks

  • The underlying Fabric infrastructure is decoupled from the Virtualised Service Networks allowing for increased flexibility in deploying/changing services

  • Virtual Service Networks are completely isolated from one another and run as ships in the night over the Fabric infrastructure.

Fabric Connect for Campus Edge networks

The key benefits of the Fabric Edge are:

  • Significant reduction in manual provisioning that is currently required at the network edge (MLAG, VLANs, IP multicast, Fabric Attach)

  • Fabric infrastructure automation (automation of all Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach links)

  • Dynamic authentication, service provisioning and policy assignment of users and devices when RADIUS is deployed

  • Centralised management though on-premise or cloud-based management tools

  • Edge network design simplification.

Fabric Connect for branches

Fabric Connect provides these benefits for branches:

  • Secure branch office connectivity over public and private WANs

  • Edge only provisioning for new services/network changes across the distributed network

  • Reduced WAN charges by the ability to transport many Fabric Connect services within a single service provider circuit/connectivity service.

  • Reduces the number of distributed firewalls by using the Fabric Connect network to extend secure zones/micro-segments to the branch office.

  • Simple extension of multicast capabilities across the WAN into the branch office

  • Consistent architecture. Consistent operations.

Fabric Connect for service providers

Fabric Connect provides service provider with:

  • Fast time to service in enabling new customer services

  • Reduced operations costs by having a simpler, more plug and play network environment

  • Ability to meet/exceed customer SLAs through a resilient network architecture

  • Simplified multi-tenancy and micro-segmentation with simple end point provisioning

  • Powerful analytics to show network, application and client data/health

  • Centralised management with on-premise and cloud-based operations.

“Extreme has developed a Fabric Connect solution for all possible eventualities, with the range of advantages making it an obvious choice for new network clients. For existing Fabric Connect clients, it will be apparent that the functionality is there to be leveraged,” says Nel.

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