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SuperComm 2009: Brocade, Ixia, NTT, Mu Dynamics, Cisco, and NetOptics

Visiting vendors and talking to product managers is the only reason I go to shows. On occasion, I participate in a panel or give a presentation, but what I really want to do is see what vendors have cooking. SuperComm, while not an enterprise show, has quite a few vendors that service both carriers and enterprises, and often products tend to flow from the carrier to enterprise market as bandwidth demands rise. Keeping an eye on what they are doing tells us where the enterprise may be heading.

Brocade wants us to remember that they still have a vibrant service provider business and they provide switching for 5 of the top Internet exchanges. Like most equipment makers, they too are seeing a push towards Carrier Ethernet as the preferred transport of choice. Currently most Carrier Ethernet is encapsulated in MPLS, but Nadeem Zahid with Brocade points out that encapsulation is just a hill along the road to native Ethernet in the WAN. For enterprises, all that really matters is what happening in your side of the demarcation point, but knowing what your service provider is using can tell you what direction they are going.

Ixia had some big news about acquiring the testing business from Agilent. Network performance testing for enterprise equipment is really a two horse race between Spirent and Ixia. Both companies have been working toward scaling up their testbeds to service provider scale and extending their suites up the OSI model to test networks end-to-end rather than device-by-device. The Agilent acquisition gives Ixia some more mindshare in service provider testing as well as access to foreign markets than they did have.

NTT in the U.S. is one of the carriers most enterprises haven't heard about, as they don't provide much in the way of direct network or consumer access, but they do run a few data centers, one of which houses all of Twitter's servers. Yes, all of them. An interesting fact considering the denial of service attacks directed at this summer. NTT was taking heat for being the sole network provider, but Kazuhiro Gomi, COO and VP of Global IT and Enterprise hosting points out that meant that NTT's engineers could deal with the entire denial of service attack without involving multiple carriers. More on denial of service mitigation is coming in a later post.

MyDynamics which has a network-oriented security testing product that empirically sends malformed traffic at and through network devices, added the ability to create new attack scenarios based on real traffic captures. Synthetic traffic is useful, but hardly ever captures the entire range of possible protocol variations seen on live networks. By using a capture, which can be edited to simulate new traffic by selecting new port numbers, sequence numbers, etc, QA and security people can capture and repeat traffic.

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