HP announced two improvements to its Flex Fabric data center networking strategy that will
put it on firmer footing against rival Cisco and extend its push into the private cloud.
HP’s Multitenant Device Context (MDC) software partitions a single switch into multiple virtual
switches, ensuring separation between groups such as different tenants. The company’s
Ethernet Virtual Interconnect (EVI) extends Layer 2 networking over the WAN and competes
with Cisco’s Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) and Virtual Device Context on the Nexus
7000. EVI and MDC combined form the framework for HP’s cloud networking and will be
available free as a software upgrade in the fourth quarter for HP’s FlexFabric A12500 switches.
Since EVI and MDC are included with the A12500 software, HP claims its core switch with Layer
2 extensions costs just 56% of Cisco’s Nexus 7000 with similar capabilities.
The main goal of Layer 2 extension protocols is to improve application availability and disaster
recovery by making possible failover to geographically diverse locations. “Enterprises should
re-architect applications to be fault-tolerant and resilient, but rewriting applications and
rebuilding the underlying infrastructure is complex and expensive,” explained Greg Ferro,
a network architect and Network Computing “Layer 2 extension allows companies to use
geographic replication without changing their applications.
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