Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture

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Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA), in computer networking usage, is the name given by Avaya Inc, to its overarching strategy for integrated data networking solutions.[1][2] Rather than one single product or protocol, Avaya VENA is positioned as a set of complementary “technologies”, deployable across various hardware “products”, than can be used individually or in combinations to deliver fit-for-purpose solutions for business requirements of various size, scale, and complexity.[3]

The stated intent for Avaya VENA is that it provides open solutions that help establish effective, reliable, and agile private cloud infrastructures within the enterprise Campus, Data Center, and extending out to remote Metro/Branch locations. Solutions leveraging Avaya VENA technologies and products claim to ease the design, management, and implementation burden of networks.[4]

Components of Avaya VENA[edit]


Fabric Connect[edit]

A network virtualization capability, based on an enhanced implementation of the IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) standard, that offers the ability to create a simplified network that can dynamically virtualize elements to efficiently provision and utilize resources, thus reducing the strain on the network and personnel. Fabric Connect offers a robust and resilient alternative to today’s existing offerings and it delivers innovative services and solutions while maintaining Ethernet’s key value propositions of simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Fabric Connect delivers new capabilities in the crucial areas of simplicity, scalability, performance, reliability, and service orchestration and abstraction. Avaya base the Fabric Connect technology on the SPB standard, including support for RFC 6329,[5] and have integrated IP Routing and IP Multicast[6] support; this unified technology allows for the replacement of multiple conventional protocols such as Spanning Tree, RIP and/or OSPF, ECMP, and PIM. Simply put, Fabric Connect's aim is to provide network-wide, end-to-end virtualization.

Fabric Attach[edit]

An adjunct to the Fabric Connect technology, Fabric Attach, allows network operators to extend network virtualization directly into the conventional wiring closet (on existing non-fabric switches) and automate the provisioning of devices to their appropriate virtual network. This is particularly relevant for the mass of unattended network end-point that are now appearing, such as IP phones, wireless access points, and IP cameras. Fabric Attach leverages ID Engines (see below) and standardized protocols such as 802.1AB LLDP to exchange credentails and obtain provisioning information that allows "Client" switches to be automatically re-configured on the fly with parameters that let traffic flows map through to Fabric Connect edge switches (aka "BEB" is SPB definition) functioning as a Fabric Attach "server" switch. This method is described by an IETF "Internet Draft",[7] pending further standardization activity. Fabric Attach is typically used to automate Wiring Closet connectivity, but has the potential to be extensible for use in the Data Center, with Virtual Machines being able to dynamically request VLAN/VSN (Virtual Service Network) assignment based upon application requirements.[8]

Switch Cluster[edit]

A device virtualization feature, delivered using split multi-link trunking protocols that are proprietary to Avaya products, Switch Cluster is interoperable with third party Ethernet switches, servers, appliances, and IP routers that support standardized link aggregation protocols (i.e., 802.1AX/802.3ad). Switch Cluster logically virtualizes a pair of like switches so that they effectively appear and operate as a single network entity. This provides physical independence and increases network availability. Typically deployed in the core or distribution/aggregation tiers of the network, Switch Cluster mitigates against a single point-of-failure outage, and supports traffic flows at both Layer 2 and Layer 3. First released in 2001, Switch Cluster was the first of competing “Multi-Chassis LAG” capabilities proposed by other networking vendors. Avaya intends Switch Cluster to provide high-availability multi-homed connectivity, deployable individually or as an active-active access solution for Fabric Connect.

Stackable Chassis[edit]

Most of Avaya’s fixed-format Ethernet switches implement a proprietary solution that optimizes inter-device reachability and connectivity. The proprietary Avaya “Flexible Advanced Stacking Technology” (FAST) protocol—implemented using dedicated ports and special cabling—provides a resilient, high-performance, solution that leverages a shortest path algorithm that minimizes transit hops in a multi-device configuration by providing active-active bi-directional traffic flows. Avaya markets the Stackable Chassis technology as being able to offer the performance, resiliency, and ease of serviceability attributes of a traditional Chassis solution, but at a lower, pay-as-you-grow price point. Notable is the ability to swap-out a failed unit without the requirement to pre- or post-stage operating system software or configuration; providing equivalency to module replacement for a modular Chassis system. Stackable Chassis is implemented in a scaled manner as product lines rise through the performance band, providing increasing virtual backplane bandwidth between interconnected switches: starting at 80 Gbit/s of aggregate bandwidth – for 8-switch configuration – of the entry-level Ethernet routing switch 3500 Series;[9] up to 384 Gbit/s for the mainstream Ethernet routing switch 4000 Series;[10] rising to 5.12 Tbit/s for the Virtual Service Platform 7000 Series.[11] Stackable Chassis is typically used to virtualize device connectivity for the Wiring Closet, and is usually used in conjunction with a Switch Cluster deployment in the Core.

Distributed top-of-rack[edit]

An application optimization solution, the role of distributed top-of-rack (DToR) is to expedite traffic flows between servers across multiple racks, as opposed to typical ToR switch deployments that direct these flows through multiple networking tiers. DToR switches traffic onto dedicated high-speed switch interconnects, avoiding aggregation or Core Switch tiers and reducing server-to-server latency, and improving application performance. DToR is supported on the Virtual Service Platform 7000 Series, and is deployable in two modes: Stack-mode DToR that leverages the FAST protocol from the Stackable Chassis technology to provide scalability up to 8 units, with a virtual backplane capability of 5.12 Tbit/s, and Fabric-mode DToR that leverages the SPB protocol from the Fabric Connect technology to the scale up to 500 units with a bandwidth of up to 280 Tbit/s. Thus, Stack-mode DToR supports up to 256 ports of 10 gigabit Ethernet in a single logical domain, while Fabric-mode DToR supports up to 16,000 ports.[12] DToR can be used in a standalone mode, in conjunction with the Stackable Chassis technology, and also used at the Server Access method for an implementation of Fabric Connect.

Identity Engines[edit]

An access management technology that provides standards-based network access control that is claimed to be both powerful and easy to deploy. ID Engines is typically used in conjunction with Stackable Chassis products to manage wired access, and with Avaya’s Wireless LAN products to manage wireless access, creating a unified access management solution.

Hardware Products[edit]

Virtual Services Platform 9000 Series[edit]

A range of modular chassis-based products, featuring a carrier-grade Linux operation system, and designed for high-performance deployment scenarios that need to scale to multiple terabit of switching capacity and support 10 and 40 gigabit Ethernet connections, and is designed to eventually support 100 gigabit Ethernet.[13] The VSP 9000 supports the Fabric Connect, Switch Cluster, and ID Engines technologies.

Virtual Services Platform 8000 Series[edit]

A compact form-factor platform delivering high-density 10/40 gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and targeted at mid-market through to mid-size enterprise core switch applications.[14] The VSP 8000 supports the Fabric Connect, Switch Cluster, Fabric Attach, and ID Engines technologies.

Virtual Services Platform 7000 Series[edit]

These are a range of high-end 10 gigabit Ethernet stackable switches that extend fabric-based networking to the data center top-of-rack. They support 40 gigabit Ethernet via the MDA Slot.[15] The VSP 7000 supports the Fabric Connect, Switch Cluster, Distributed Top-of-Rack, Stackable Chassis, and ID Engines technologies.

Virtual Services Platform 4000 Series[edit]

This is a range of high-end gigabit Ethernet stackable switches that extend fabric-based networking to branch and metro locations.[16] The VSP 4000 supports the Fabric Connect and ID Engines technologies.

Ethernet Routing Switch 8800 Series[edit]

This is a range of modular chassis-based products that support up to 96 10 gigabit Ethernet ports.[17] The ERS 8800 Series has superseded the original Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 Series products. The ERS 8800 supports the Fabric Connect, Switch Cluster, and ID Engines technologies.

Ethernet Routing Switch 5000 Series[edit]

This range of high-end gigabit Ethernet stackable switches provide enterprise-class desktop features, including PoE, and offering 10 Gbit/s uplink connections. Each Switch supports up to 144 Gbit/s of virtual backplane capacity, delivering up to 1.152 Tbit/s for a system of eight, creating a virtual backplane through a stacking configuration.[18] The ERS 5000 Series supports the Stackable Chassis, Switch Cluster, Fabric Attach, and ID Engines technologies.

Ethernet Routing Switch 4000 Series[edit]

These mid-range gigabit Ethernet stackable switches provide enterprise-class desktop features, including PoE/PoE+, and offering 1/10 Gbit/s uplink connections. Each switch supports up to 48Gbit/s of virtual backplane capacity, delivering up to 384Gbit/s for a system of 8, creating a virtual backplane through a stacking configuration. The series consists of eleven models—4500 and 4800 model variants—that can mix and match with other models to meet configuration and scaling requirements. All ERS 4000 models support the Stackable Chassis, Fabric Attach, and ID Engines technologies, and the 4800 models also support the Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach technologies.

Ethernet Routing Switch 3500 Series[edit]

These entry-level gigabit Ethernet stackable switches provide enterprise-class desktop features, including PoE/PoE+, and 1 Gbit/s uplink connections.[19] The ERS 3500 supports the Stackable Chassis and ID Engines technologies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Avaya Launches Virtualization Strategy". 2010-11-12. 
  2. ^ "Avaya Launches Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture Platform". 2010-11-12. 
  3. ^ "Avaya Adds to VENA Virtualization Effort with Switch, Software". 2011-05-03. 
  4. ^ "Avaya VENA and Next-Generation Applications". YouTube. Avaya. 16 Nov 2011. 
  5. ^ "IS-IS Extensions Supporting IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging". IETF. April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Avaya aims to boost IP multicast methods with new network fabric". 17 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Auto-Attach using LLDP with IEEE 802.1aq SPBM Networks draft-unbehagen-lldp-spb-00". IETF. July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Avaya Networking Solutions Close the Gap between Data Center and End Devices". Avaya Inc. 26 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Avaya Ethernet routing switch 3500" (PDF). Avaya Inc. 17 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Avaya Ethernet routing switch 4000 Series" (PDF). Avaya Inc. 11 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Avaya Virtual Services Platform 7000 Series" (PDF). Avaya Inc. 22 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Avaya Virtual Service Platform 7000 Series" (PDF). Avaya Inc. 22 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Nortel Soldiers On With New Networking Gear". 20 May 2009. 
  14. ^ "Avaya Networking Solutions Close the Gap between Data Centre and End Devices". 26 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Avaya Virtual Service Platform 7000 switch Delivers Real Performance". 3 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Avaya aims to boost IP multicast methods with new network fabric". 17 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Radvision, Avaya announce offerings at Interop". 27 April 2010. 
  18. ^ "Nortel Unveils New Ethernet Switches". 12 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "Avaya targets small businesses with new network gear". 23 April 2012. 

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