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Campus Networks

Keeping up with User Demand Requires Out-of-the-Box Thinking

by Jeff Sejourne ‎11-04-2014 02:52 AM - edited ‎11-04-2014 04:14 AM (2,946 Views)


Ubiquitous video calls, unified communications, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), wireless access at wired speed greatly contribute to user productivity, but these new applications and devices, place immense pressure on the network, a network that was not originally designed to handle such demand.


Traditional legacy campus networks have been through years of incremental technology improvements and patchworks that have turned what should be a coherent network into a complex and fragmented collection of loosely coupled devices. These networks are not optimized to support today’s dynamic applications with ever changing traffic patterns and they suffer from many shortcomings:


  • Rigid scalability: Traditional three-tier network design with “big-box” chassis at the aggregation and core layers require a significant up-front investment and offer limited deployment flexibility and future-proofing. Often this requires a “fork-lift” upgrade to move up to the next capacity level.
  • Costly to manage: Legacy campus networks are managed one switch at time. Network administrators are required to connect to each individual network device to apply configuration changes and provision resources. The burden is on the network team to keep the network coherent and all network devices configurations in sync.
  • Fragmented services: A typical legacy campus network includes multiple network layers running inefficient legacy protocols such as spanning tree, with many different network devices running various network OS platforms and versions. Each network device offers different levels of Layer 2 and Layer 3 (L2/L3) network services based on the capability of each device and the type of software licenses activated.
  • Inefficient use of resources: Years of technology evolution and the lack of a network-wide L2 forwarding map have rendered the deployment of loop prevention protocols such as “Spanning tree” necessary. The Spanning tree protocol has the unfortunate side effect off blocking all redundant links in and requires a significant amount of management overhead.


Keeping up with user demand and supporting the latest applications requires out-of-the-box thinking. Today’s campus networks need to be designed in such a way that they are inherently scalable, easy and cost effective to manage and offer the type of network services needed by modern applications. The following principles should drive the design of modern campus networks:


  • Consolidated management: To reduce operational cost and to guarantee uptime, the network needs to be managed as a whole, not as a collection of individual devices. This principle is at the core of modern network design enabling consolidated management across the network from a single point, either from using CLI or through a GUI interface
  • Shared network services: To greatly simplify network management, maximize deployment flexibility, and reduce costs, the same network services should be available consistently on every network port independently of the capability individual network devices.
  • Scale-out networking: a distributed “multi-box” architecture can deliver much greater scalability and future proofing with an easier “upgrade as you go” model. It enables network architects to add capacity exactly where it is needed in the network unlike a “big-box” chassis approach with all ports located in the same closet.

This week, Brocade is introducing a set of new software features and new hardware options to enable network architects to design and build networks based on these design principles. Be sure to check out the Effortless Network landing page for more details.