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Business resilience with HP IRF Ethernet Fabric

By Ahmad Zamer, Sr. Global Product Marketing Manager, HP Networking


Ahmed ZamerThe reality that businesses face every day is increasingly being driven by heightened customer expectations. To meet these increasing demands enterprise data centers must be equipped to support customer requirements of reliable, timely and affordable services. HP Intelligent Resilient Fabric (IRF) is the foundation on which enterprises can build such data centers.  With IRF, networking resources are more agile, easier to deploy, and simpler to manage.


HP Intelligent Resilient Fabric


Fabrics extend the concept found in networking switches beyond the physical confound offered by a single switch. With fabrics, multiple physical switches can be grouped together so that they behave and can be managed as one virtual switch. With HP IRF, customers can group, or virtualize, up to nine physical switches into a single virtual switch.


IRF simplifies network management


Network administrators deserve a break from the complexity of network management and mundane manual tasks such as provisioning. With IRF, up to nine switches can be managed as a single logical device with one Internet Protocol (IP) address. Network administrators can realize gains north of 75% by reducing the number of managed devices. IRF enhances the performance of network administrators by enabling them to manage much larger sets of physical devices.

Network admins will also see a significant reduction in the time consumed by switch configurations and deployment. A cornerstone of IRF is its distributed intelligence, where every switch in the IRF domain contains the domain’s configuration information. Once one creates an HP IRF domain, switches can be easily added, or removed from the IRF group.  IRF helps network administrators deploy and operate networking switches more effectively, to meet business needs faster, and satisfy more customers.


IRF enhances network agility


As noted earlier, IRF is built with intelligence that gives every IRF domain member configuration details. That information enables the IRF domain to re-converge faster and keep your network running. Network availability is essential for meeting customer expectation for 7/24 service availability.


HP IRF is built on innovations that replace Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). With STP-free deployments, networks are free of decades old crippling protocols. Third party tests show that IRF can rec-converges about 500* times faster than comparable STP-based configurations. IRF agility provides enterprises higher levels of reliability and enterprise resilience that help them provides more consistent service and positive customer experience.


IRF unleashes network performance


For decades, enterprises invested in networking infrastructure capacity, only to discover that most of the acquired bandwidth must be blocked. Companies using STP are forced to design their networks to adapt to the needs of the aging protocol. With HP IRF, one can build STP-free networks that can use all the available bandwidth. In essence, enterprises are able to take advantage of the investments made in networking capacity.


 In addition to freeing strained networking bandwidth, HP IRF adds link aggregation capability to links connecting physical device. Link aggregation dramatically enhances network reliability and makes aggregate network bandwidth available to devices in the IRF domain. The result is a network that is ready to support the most demanding business applications. HP publically demonstrated the superior capabilities of IRF by showing that workload mobility can be improved by more than 80% when using vMotion*. Faster workload mobility keeps applications running and available to customers. Higher networking reliability and wider bandwidth enable enterprises to support more business applications and serve more customers.


IRF adapts to your business needs


HP IRF flexible configuration and deployment enables you to grow your data center network at the pace you need to support your growing business needs. You can start with the number of physical devices needed today, and then utilize IRF to easily add the new devices as business needs arise. Whether you add a new switch to the IRF domain, or remove one from it, IRF recognizes the change and quickly responds to it. IRF’s pay-as-you-grow model and faster time to service help reduce your CAPEX, while accelerating return on investment.


IRF scales your business


Unlike some Ethernet fabric implementations, IRF work with and builds on other Ethernet protocols. A good example is how IRF utilizes Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) to scale network environments. Every IRF domain appears as a single virtual switch that can be managed with a single IP address. In essence, IRF domain appears as one TRILL routing bridge allowing network admins to expand TRILL Layer 2 networks to meet higher scalability levels. With IRF simple management and configurations, large scale networking environments remain easier to deploy and operate.


Simplify your network with HP IRF and SDN


Virtualization, the cloud, mobility, and big data are placing unprecedented demands on the data center network. A simpler approach to network architecture is needed to deliver that required performance and resiliency. There is no better combination to deliver that solution than IRF and software-defined networking (SDN). While HP IRF virtualizes physical switches, SDN goes further to automate networking tasks and enables networking applications to share the infrastructure. With IRF and SDN, your network is resilient and cloud ready. The HP excellence center in Europe conducted tests, which showed that using SDN, one can reduce network provisioning efforts to seven minutes from what normally takes two long weeks. The significant savings allow enterprises to direct IT resources toward innovation.


Supporting your business needs


HP continues to drive networking technologies that meets your business needs. IRF is the foundation for resilient, scalable, easy to manage and operate data center networks. Along with TRILL and SDN, IRF turns your data center network assets into a pool of resources that can be dynamically allocated and shared by all business applications. With that, you are ready to align networking investments to your business needs. More importantly, you are able to serve more customers in a timely manner, while directing saved IT resources to business innovation.


>> For more information about IRF, visit the HP Networking IRF site


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Sources: * Network Test IRF/VMware testing results:

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