Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, HP and Spirent are joining together this week at Interop Las Vegas to conduct the industry's first, live multi-vendor interoperability test using Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) technology. The interoperability test is running across the InteropNet backbone to publicly showcase the multi-vendor fabric implementation.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Shortest Path Bridging is an open and extensible fabric networking technology, standardized by the IEEE as 802.1aq and by the IETF as RFC 6329. It enables customers to simplify network creation and management by requiring service provisioning only at the edge of the network.

Seamless Service Between Data Centers

Proponents of SPB technology explain that it saves time and effort, and reduces human error by dynamically building and maintaining the network topology between nodes using the Intermediate-System to Intermediate-System (IS-IS) protocol. By establishing a multi-path fabric for traffic distribution, SPB can maximize bandwidth utilization on all paths and execute seamless, sub-second network changes.

The vendors involved say the collaborative test in Las Vegas helps demonstrate the benefits of open, standards-based solutions. The Interop network closely replicates the reality of today's network environments, which often use a mix of equipment from different suppliers, distributed across different data Relevant Products/Services centers and network clouds.

Using SPB in heterogeneous networking environments -- and as a bridge between private and public clouds -- can be a key solution for enabling seamless service delivery between data centers.

Test Specifics

The interoperability test will leverage the InteropNet backbone network to interconnect equipment located at each of the participant's booths. Avaya's SPB-based Fabric Connect technology will support InteropNet, which is one of the world's largest temporary networks, and is built specifically to serve the Interop IT Expo and Conference.

This test builds on previous validation efforts that have demonstrated SPB's capabilities for multi-site data centers and hybrid clouds. One demonstration included a 2000-node, 400-link interoperability test that showcased full control and data plane interoperability between five vendors. Another test included the migration of a virtual machine over a multi-vendor SPB network that seamlessly transferred services between nodes delivered by different vendors.

The SPB network at Interop, which runs May 6-10, is using Alcatel-Lucent's OmniSwitch, Avaya's Virtual Services Platform 9000, and the HP 12500 Switch Series, alongside Spirent's TestCenter.

Ready for Mission-Critical

Marc Randall, senior VP and general manager for Avaya Networking, explained that the collaborative demo is part of Avaya's efforts to bring open, interoperable networking technologies to market. Randall also said that showcasing Shortest Path Bridging at Interop this week helps prove that the new technology is ready for multi-vendor, mission-critical environments.

Stephane Robineau, VP and general manager for Enterprise Networks at Alcatel-Lucent, also commented on the benefits of Shortest Path Bridging, saying it will help simplify IT operations for virtualized enterprise Relevant Products/Services data centers and cloud Relevant Products/Services networks.

Tech industry analyst Zeus Kerravala agrees that SPB offers a good alternative to other fabric technologies for companies that are looking to virtualize their data centers and reduce network complexity. The benefits he mentioned include more vendor support, greater scalability, and implementations which are closer to the actual standards -- all key factors when interoperability is required.