• Extreme Networks Inc. recently added network fabric features to its ExtremeCloud SD-WAN, allowing users to securely extend the network fabric across data centers, campus networks, and branch sites.
  • The integration of Extreme’s Fabric Connect with SD-WAN simplifies the detection and configuration of fabric-enabled switches and wireless access points.

Extreme Networks Inc. recently announced that it has integrated network fabric capabilities into its ExtremeCloud SD-WAN or software-defined wide-area network, allowing customers to securely extend the network fabric across the end-to-end network, which includes data centers, campus networks, and branch locations.

Extreme obtained its fabric as a data center solution by acquiring Avaya’s networking company. The corporation then expanded it to the campus and wide area networks (WAN).

The fabric is built on industry-standard shortest-path bridging and eliminates the requirement for protocols such as PIM, BPG, MPLS, 802.1, and VLANs. If communication between two points has to be established, it may be done using a simple graphical user interface, in this instance ExtremeCloud IQ. The technology functions as a genuine overlay “fabric” in which every point is securely linked to every other point.

In storage networking, where downtime is undesirable, and performance must be assured, the notion of the fabric has been adopted, whereas data networks have historically relied on “best effort” capabilities. Given the network’s significance today, a fabric’s features are now crucial to the operations of a corporation.

With this release, customers can now extend network fabric natively to branch locations while enjoying all the application performance advantages of an SD-WAN. The enhanced solution features automated workflows with a streamlined user interface and experience and direct connectivity to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and other cloud platforms. Extreme users can manage and provide everything in a single location, which is one of the company’s primary features.

Dan DeBacker, senior vice president of products at Extreme, said, “The idea is to bring one network to life through fabric. We initially extended fabric to the wiring closet, and now we’re extending fabric from the campus to the branch. We’re not doing a fabric attach or tunneling or going through a VPN. The fabric connects users to applications, so whether that user is on the campus or in the branch, it’s the same fabric connecting the same application all the way across.”

This is essential for user experience, as application performance depends on network connectivity from the user’s device to the cloud. Historically, network operations teams have controlled each network subdomain separately, including the WAN, campus, and data center. This made it logical from an organizational standpoint but made network troubleshooting difficult. With an end-to-end fabric, network-wide administration, visibility, and security are achieved, as opposed to for specific domains.

ExtremeCloud SD-WAN utilizes technology bought in 2022 from Ipanema. The system includes appliances, an operating and orchestration platform, maintenance and support, and security. ExtremeCloud IQ, which employs artificial intelligence for information technology operations across wired, wireless, and SD-WAN networks, manages it centrally.

The integration of Extreme’s Fabric Connect with SD-WAN simplifies the detection and configuration of fabric-enabled switches and wireless access points. Extreme deploys fabric Connect through an SD-WAN to branch sites with fabric-enabled switches that connect to the data center and campus. Because the same fabric is utilized throughout, clients may expand the connection to additional sites without compromising security or application performance.

Dan DeBacker said, “We’ve also enhanced zero-touch fabric provisioning, so there’s nothing for customers to plug in. We want to continue evolving the fabric everywhere concept with one network, so that customers will be able to easily provision their SD-WAN infrastructure and get all the benefits.”

According to DeBacker, although the target market is Extreme’s current client base, many businesses require this connectivity, such as a K-12 school that wants to onboard all of its switches or a healthcare provider that wishes to set up many remote clinics. Using the fabric capabilities, both businesses may control their networks as one. This should help Extreme attract new clients to its WAN solution, something it has not achieved thus far.

This year, Extreme is also planning to expand its native Wi-Fi 7 support to the network fabric. Wi-Fi 7 will enable new enterprise-grade services, such as multilink operation, where numerous Wi-Fi connections may be used to reduce latency, enhance reliability, and boost throughput, according to the manufacturer. Wi-Fi 7 devices will also utilize the 6-gigahertz band spectrum to create a seven-lane motorway for Wi-Fi consumers.

In the past six months, several suppliers in the IT industry have laid off double-digit percentages of their workforce. Networking has been one of the few bright spots throughout this period. The enterprise businesses of Extreme, Arista Networks Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., and Cisco Systems Inc. have all experienced robust growth.

According to discussions with IT professionals, businesses had now realized the value the network can provide to digital projects, necessitating investment in network modernization. Extreme’s portfolio lacked the WAN until 2022, when it was added to its offerings. The length of the fabric offers a compelling tale from beginning to end for the firm.