Today, Brocade is launching a campus edge switch family called the ICX 7250, due to ship in general availability this month. It’s a followup to the ICX 7750, a fixed-format switch Brocade introduced late in 2013 for the campus-network core. It’s the campus analogue to a data-center spine switch, bringing the leaf/spine architecture out to the campus.
One aim of the 7250 is density, with the ability to stack switches to a combined 576 ports of Gigabit Ethernet. (That’s 12 switches with 48 ports apiece.) Each switch also has eight ports of 10-Gb/s Ethernet that can be used for either uplinks or stacking.
Brocade is also introducing the Switch Port Extender, a management tool that works on the 7250 as well as Brocade’s ICX 7450 (a campus aggregation switch) and 7750. It also allows the smaller switches to inherit some of the features of the 7750. The Switch Port Extender is set to arrive late in the year.
All of the Brocade OpenFlow campus switches will come with OpenFlow 1.3 support (the 7250 will get it in a software upgrade at the end of the year), bringing that protocol to the campus. It’s kind of a full-circle journey: OpenFlow started on the campus (literally — the Stanford University campus), but has been targeted more at the data center.
Do campus networks even want OpenFlow? Whether they do or not, it’s a feature they want to hear about. “They’re using it as an influence criterion,” says Siva Valliappan, vice president of Brocade’s campus business. “Even some of our smaller customers, even K-12 customers, want to know where we are headed” with OpenFlow, he says.