Updated April 3rd 2014: added "Enterprise" after each mention of Alcaterl-Lucent and clarified the role of the coprocessor in the E series model.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise recently made a number of intriguing enterprise announcements regarding new hardware and software to enable companies to better manage the myriad applications running on their network whether using wired or wireless access. Touting Unified Access with Application Fluency, their new solutions are designed to help you figure out exactly what your network is switching and moreover, what resource various applications are using.
In a conversation with company representatives, Joseph Raccuglia and Heitor Faroni, they explained their vision that the network needs to understand better what applications are doing. It’s not just about voice and video they explained but being able to ensure you know the difference between traffic related to your CEO on an analyst call as opposed to a random employee watching a video about cats. They continued that an explosion of apps has IT teams needing new tools to understand and control them.
In response, the company’s Unified Access strategy has added network analytics which can recognize more apps, deliver enforcement, add visibility while enforcing at the wired or wireless network edge.
As referred to in the cat video example above the company’s Unified Access solution optimizes QoS for business critical apps across wired and wireless networks. Moreover, there is a software refresh for Unified Access and SDN compatibility.
The company also unveiled the OmniSwitch 6860 Access Switch (pictured) which they believe is the industry’s most advanced access switch with a 256G wire rate engine, a wire rate DPI engine for up to 100 apps and a coprocessor for advanced functionality which I’ll get back to momentarily.
In addition the company rolled out additional 802.11ac APs for outdoor and price sensitive markets as well as an access point with a virtualized wireless controller built into it.
This gets us to the 6860E model which has an additional coprocessor which helps increase the capacity of the device in the following manner... It does recognition on 1000 app signatures and IT can then select up to 100 apps or app groups to push to the ASIC in order to perform enforcement. This coprocessor in the future can also house other network services.
In the real-world this means you can perform enforcement more rapidly – like bandwidth limitation or stopping file sharing apps such as BitTorrent. Alternatively you can raise or lower the priority of apps such as YouTube or others based on HTML.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has done a good job upgrading its portfolio of software and hardware solutions and is positioning itself well as the industry moves towards the mega-trends of BYOD, SDN and holistic application management.