Fabric Networking: The largest tech revolution

Ethernet celebrated its 40th birthday in 2013. Ethernet today works hard to connect data centre networks, PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, the smart grid, smart meters, personal medical devices, and even connected cars.

Part of Ethernet’s success is that it was never tied to any single vendor and was flexible enough to adapt to changing environments and networking trends.

Industry trends such as the explosion of data, the proliferation of smart devices, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives, and technological advancements such as cloud computing and virtualisation have led to a need to rethink how networks are designed.

Today, Ethernet—in the form of Ethernet fabrics—is once again at the forefront of one of the largest technology revolutions in the networking industry.

More importantly, an Ethernet fabric enables data centres to adopt new technologies without abandoning their existing Ethernet infrastructure. With an Ethernet fabric, no configuration
is required, and it can be set up in a multivendor environment.

Any new switch added to the fabric automatically discovers the other switches and devices forming the fabric.

From a management perspective, Ethernet fabrics are much simpler to administer than traditional networks. Since the fabrics have distributed intelligence, a single configuration can be shared by all switch ports.

When a new server, disk array, or other device connects to the fabric, all the switches are aware of its presence. This dramatically reduces the amount of resources required to maintain the network.

Administrators simply need to set the security policies and protocols for the entire fabric just once, instead of every time an external change is made to the network. As a result, administrators are freed up to take on more strategic work for their business.

With Ethernet fabrics driving network transformation, Ethernet continues to remain highly relevant and its use in the networking industry is bringing connectivity capabilities and performance levels that were previously unimaginable.

Ethernet simply continues to redefine networking, even at the tender age of 40.

By Greig Guy, ANZ country manager.

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