What is the actual business value of extending Extreme Fabric Connect to your remote office? We’ve put together not three, not five but ten strong reasons – all to make it easier for you to make a decision!
Rigid design constraints of legacy networks, long wait times required for the network additions or changes to kick in, sluggish application deployment and services provisioning… which organization has not experienced any of those issues?
To solve these problems, we’ve come up with Extreme Fabric Connect – a market-proven solution that delivers agility and security to the underlying network. And the great thing is, its capabilities can be natively extended beyond the traditional Data Center or Campus to any of your remote or branch locations connected by a WAN service, bringing significant advantages for your business.
What advantages, you may ask? Let’s have a quick look!
1. Rapid time to service for new services/network changes across the distributed network
With the Fabric Connect technology, the network services are extracted from the underlying Fabric infrastructure, which makes changing or extending them much more agile. When the technology is extended across the wide area to interconnect remote and branch offices, services can be seamlessly extended across the network and into distributed locations with ease.
Rather than having to provision hop-by-hop to extend a new service across the network, Fabric Connect enables network services to be provisioned at the source and destination edges only, establishing the shortest path between both points. These edge ports may very well be located in the same building or… at the opposite ends of the globe!
What it also means, is that you are rarely reconfiguring core and aggregation switches – which contributes to better stability. Furthermore, due to far fewer touch points, services can be extended very quickly and often without maintenance windows. Agility at its finest!
2. Single pane of glass management
If your business is branching out, so do the benefits of Extreme Fabric Connect. Having a single pane of glass management into the entire network offers multiple, significant operational efficiencies. For example, it can reduce training requirements, simplify deployment of new infrastructure, and dramatically simplify troubleshooting. And if that wasn’t enough, you can also take advantage of consistent policy enforcement and common analytics across the end-to-end Fabric Connect network.
Furthermore, our Fabric Connect portfolio is managed by the ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine suite of applications, with ongoing integration into our ExtremeCloud IQ platform. ExtremeCloud IQ is one of the industry’s most powerful AI/ML driven cloud-based infrastructure management solutions. The platform simplifies day-to-day network operations by enabling all distributed locations to be managed as a simple extension to headquarters through intuitive centralized management.
For customers with multiple instances of ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine, ExtremeCloud IQ can act as a Manager of Managers – bringing everything together in a single view. Furthermore, with the integrated AI/ML capabilities to rapidly analyze vast amounts of data, ExtremeCloud IQ can enable very efficient troubleshooting, even allowing potential issues to be identified before they start to impact the service.
3. Zero-touch on-boarding of branch infrastructure
Using ExtremeCloud IQ or ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine, new fabric-based branch infrastructure can be deployed literally in minutes, without requiring on-site technical resources. When a new Fabric Connect-enabled switch is booted up and connected to the network, it will automatically register with the ExtremeCloud IQ or the ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine through a secure on-boarding service. Once onboarded, devices download their pre-defined templates dynamically and become operational.
Through both zero touch on-boarding and the application of bulk provisioning templates, hundreds or even thousands of branch offices can be brought up quickly and easily, especially when compared to legacy WAN technologies.
For customers with multiple instances of ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine, ExtremeCloud IQ can act as a Manager of Managers – bringing everything together in a single view.
4. Simple multi-tenancy and micro-segmentation across the distributed network
Originating from the service provider space, Extreme Fabric Connect offers inherent multi-tenancy and micro-segmentation capabilities. It allows organizations to converge multiple physically separate networks into one converged infrastructure while offering a strong degree of isolation and separation between each of the logical networks. These logical networks or segments are completely isolated from one another and run as ships passing in the night, without any awareness of each other, and without allowing any access in or out, unless otherwise configured. And these networks can be set up very simply across distributed locations with only edge-based provisioning.
For environments where it’s desirable to extend multitenancy and/or micro-segmentation to their branch offices for security or compliance purposes, Fabric Connect simplifies the extension of these networks over the WAN through its ability to support many logical networks/segments within a single VXLAN tunnel. Normally, with a 3rd party WAN solution, each logical network or segment would require its own tunnel, creating additional costs as well as complexity. With Fabric Extend only a single WAN service needs to be purchased from the WAN provider (although multiple tunnels are supported), keeping costs low for the organization.
Multi-tenancy and micro-segmentation with Traditional and Fabric enabled WANs
5. Simplification by reducing distributed firewalls
Managing distributed firewalls is an operational pain point for large enterprises. As firewall technology gets pushed out across the network, the number of firewall policies that must be created and actively maintained grows exponentially.
Using Extreme Fabric Connect to isolate traffic zones end-to-end provides a far simpler, more scalable and less expensive way to segment traffic. Many customers find that as they extend Fabric Connect’s micro-segmentation capabilities to their branch locations, they can significantly reduce the number of firewalls they have distributed across those locations, thereby reducing policy management requirements significantly.
6. Dynamic auto-attach to simplify and secure branch office provisioning
The extension of Extreme Fabric Connect to the branch office enables the use of Fabric Attach to provide dynamic auto-attach capabilities for users and devices that are connecting to the network at the remote location. Fabric Attach also simplifies the deployment of Extreme wireless APs and provides a unified architecture for the wired and wireless environment. However, the main benefit of using Fabric Connect in conjunction with Fabric Attach is service elasticity.
Services are extended to the edge when users and devices and applications connect to the network and then retracted as they disconnect from the network. What is unique is when a user disconnects from a switch port and access to the service is no longer required, the residual configuration is automatically deleted on the edge switches. This significantly improves your organization’s security posture by eliminating the risk of a back-door entry point to the network.
When should your organization consider SD-WAN?
7. Resilient branch office connectivity
Extreme Fabric Connect provides a load-balanced, resilient network over any physical topology. When extending connectivity to the branch office both active/active or active/stand-by connectivity is supported.
In addition, Quality of Service, as well as the ability to route traffic based on policies, is supported to ensure priority of mission critical traffic. Fabric Connect also supports per-tunnel shaping which enables quality of experience and reduced latency, when many branch office tunnels are aggregated into a high-speed interface at the headquarter site.
8. Public and private WAN infrastructure connectivity options
Extreme Fabric Connect can be extended over both public and private WANs. When the public Internet is used for connectivity, IPSec encryption is supported, offering secure communications between the headquarter locations and the remote offices. The ExtremeAccess Platform supports IPSec encryption natively, while select VSP models support the Fabric IPSec Gateway which is an on-board integrated application that runs alongside the VOSS operating system.
Fragmentation and reassembly is also supported for carrying large frames across the public Internet. In addition, WAN compression is also supported, enabling higher performance over low speed public WAN links.
Branch sample deployment models
9. Integrated Application Hosting to reduce disparate devices
Preventing branch office sprawl is a key initiative of many network IT teams. Managing multiple devices at remote offices where local IT staff is either scarce or not present at all, presents challenges.
Fortunately, certain switch models within the Fabric Connect portfolio support integrated application hosting. That means that rather than having a separate disparate appliance to support an application, the application can be hosted within the switch as a separate virtual machine with its own dedicated memory and CPU resources. Within the switches, 10-20 Gig internal ports are used to interconnect the switch operating system to the integrated hosted application.
10. Simple multicast extension
Supporting highly scalable, highly resilient multicast without complex legacy protocols such as PIM is a key value of the Extreme Fabric Connect technology. For organizations that need to extend multicast applications to remote sites, Fabric Extend can do this with unparalleled ease. Leveraging this technology, IP Multicast applications can be extended to the branch office, just as if the branch office users were connected to the central office network.
In a traditional WAN architecture, transporting IP Multicast over the WAN is riddled with so many challenges to make the WAN router run PIM, and the WAN operator to offer an IP Multicast capable service, that in practice most organizations decide not to do it.
Fabric Extend overview