Campus Networks

The pain of upgrading the campus network – There is a better way

by bobyee on ‎09-11-2014 10:42 AM (3,501 Views)

Upgrading a campus network is like remodeling a house:  it’s serious pain and we wonder if there a better way?


An upgrade is a non-trivial amount of work:  budget acquisition, business justification, rearchitecture plan, rip and replace lots of switches, updating lots of OS versions, proof-of-concept testing, regression testing, performance testing, scheduling multiple change control windows, etc. 


New applications and increasing user demands are forcing the need for more capacity and performance; and at the same time we cringe at the pain that we will go through with an upgrade.  Yet, we’ve incorporated frequent upgrades into how we conduct business.  More than half of organizations actually refresh their infrastructure every 3-5 years, as reported by Forrester Research. 


Did you know that the root cause for many upgrades is not solely based on the drivers mentioned above?  Consider these facts:

  • There is a dramatic increase in incumbent network devices moving to end of support  (EOS), from 38% to 45%, in Cisco’s product portfolio.  This was reported by Dimension Data, one of Cisco’s top notch partners no less.
  • Further, 87% of existing installed access switches were found to be 1G and below; and Dimension Data states that “this will compel many organizations to upgrade their switches to meet the needs of enterprise mobility and BYOD.”
  • To go from 1G to 10G in a Cisco world requires rip & replace, as those switches are not designed for port speed upgrade flexibility.
  • In other words, there’s seems to be a bit of vendor planned obsolescence going on.

So, is there a better way?  Absolutely!


Think of a different world based upon Planned Upgradeability.


Planned Upgradability integrates products purpose-built to be easily upgradeable and customer-centric business practices, to lengthen the longevity between upgrades.  Purpose-built upgradeable network devices directly translates into cost savings, less head aches and being able to upgrade more quickly.


Let’s start with purpose-built product upgradability:

  • Port level
    • Upgradeable port speed.  Upgrade port speed on existing equipment from 1G to 10G, using a software key.  There’s no rip & replace.
  • Switch level 
    • Upgrade with fewer premium switches, using a Distributed Services model that extends advanced features such as Layer 3 services, VRF, and IPv6 multicast from premium switches to less expensive entry level switches.   There’s no need to continue adding premium switches or to upgrade a license.
  • Architectural level
    • Upgrade with fewer devices and a simplified architecture.  A  2-tier collapsed architecture, versus 3-tier status quo architecture, requires fewer devices; and thus is easier to manage, improves TCO, and improves the user experience with fewer hops.
  • Operational level
    • Upgrade with minimal learning using a CLI that is built to be very similar with what many customers already use. 

Let’s continue with the business-friendly practices:

  • Picture upgrading with no additional SmartNet costs. 
  • Instead think Lifetime warranty for SW and HW upgrades, and free 3 year TAC.
  • Also imagine a business practice where you can get the latest products any time, by returning your old equipment and getting state-of-the-art new equipment, using OPEX.   This can be accomplished using subscription based financing which does not use CAPEX.

These are some of the planned upgradability features that Brocade offers.  Our customers now have more cycles and money to focus on what they do best, which is to innovate and further their competitive advantages for their whole house.


For more information read this new paper from ESG, The Enterprise Strategy Group, called    Understanding the Value of Brocade Campus Networks