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Optical/IP

Dutch Exchange Sticks With Brocade

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) has provided the Amsterdam Internet Exchange B.V. (AMS-IX) with a migration to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and is soon to give the provider a way to double the density of its routers.

The change to MPLS is finished, and can be seen -- with diagrams! -- on the AMS-IX Website. The double-density card is expected to arrive in a few months and will boost Brocade's NetIron MLX routers to support 256 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports each, says Job Witteman, CEO of AMS-IX.

By using MPLS, AMS-IX can take advantage of load balancing to get more out of its routers. Instead of having one router in the core, plus one for backup, AMS-IX now has four. Traffic is split among the four, and they back up one another if there's a failure or if one box is just getting more than its share of traffic.

"It's a little more complex, but it's also a bit more robust," Witteman says.

As far as equipment goes, AMS-IX has stayed with Foundry Networks -- acquired by Brocade at the end of 2008 -- for more than 10 years now, through multiple upgrades. (See Brocade to Acquire Foundry, AMS-IX Picks Foundry Backbone, Foundry Goes Terabit, Amsterdam Exchange Picks Foundry, Foundry Drives Growth , and AMS-IX Picks Foundry.)

In fact, Brocade is announcing today that its routers are in use in the three largest Internet exchange points: AMS-IX, Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX), and The London Internet Exchange Ltd. (LINX) . (See Brocade Claims Top IXPs.)

That's a particular point of pride for Brocade, because these exchanges could be considered the guts of the Internet; combined, they have some hand in carrying more than one-third of the world's traffic. "They hold the bar very high," says Ananda Rajagopal, Brocade's director of service provider products.

AMS-IX uses just one vendor for Ethernet. Foundry landed that role because officials at AMS-IX were concerned that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) was putting too much emphasis on the enterprise market and not enough on high-end Ethernet switches.

"When we started with Foundry, it was because we were unhappy with Cisco," Witteman says.

The relationship is tight. Brocade even has a lab environment that mimics AMS-IX's network, Witteman notes. "They can run tests by turning up AMS-IX II, so to speak. It's a much closer relationship than we'd have with a larger vendor."

AMS-IX is using lots and lots of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports to keep up with traffic demand, which exceeds 850 Gbit/s at peak times. Witteman says he would have liked to have had 100-Gbit/s Ethernet available two years ago; instead, the exchange is taking advantage of Brocade's trick of link-aggregating 32 10-Gbit/s lines to create one virtual 320-Gbit/s connection. (See Foundry LAGs Ahead.)

The double-density blades will certainly help, although they come with a catch: They don't have room for integrated optics. The edge and core routers sporting double-density blades will have to hook up to DWDM systems, something that adds elements to the network but shouldn't make operations overly complex, Witteman says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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