IBM Innovation Centers Help Enterprises Test New-Age Networking

Along with its resiliency centers for business continuity, IBM has opened two Network Innovation Centers.

These new physical plants are designed to help customers explore software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV) and other virtualization and cloud technologies that are coming online as the networking industry evolves.

Based in located in Dallas and Nice, France, the centers let users experiment with networking systems, primarily for large enterprises or telecom service providers. For example, users can work with systems such as Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Juniper Networks, Riverbed and VMware to see how those products integrate with existing systems.

In today's data-driven enterprise culture, IBM said, many clients are moving to the cloud, where high-performance conditions can stress networks. The new centers help uses "test SDN, virtualization [and] automation technologies for efficiency, agility [and] resiliency," the company said.

"Effectively applying cloud technologies to the network could allow a company to reduce its overall network capacity while increasing utilization by dynamically providing resources during the day in Beijing while it's nighttime in New York, and vice versa," said Pete Lorenzen in a statement last week. "Or a telecom company could better manage periodic, localized spikes in smartphone usage caused by major sporting events or daily urban commutes, dynamically provisioning capacity when and where it's needed."

Customers can visit the physical sites for their experimentation or access center capabilities remotely, even leveraging both at the same time to customize solutions for specific use cases.

The solutions available in the Network Innovation Centers from IBM and its partner companies "can help dynamically manage network resources through software programs, automatically moving networking resources to where they're required," IBM said. "This enables systems operators to better manage peaks and valleys in demand, use fewer networking resources operating at higher rates of efficiency and utilization, all with fewer disruptions in service and less direct management."

IBM said the centers can help clients:

  • Develop IBM-supported networking solutions from leading network technology providers in legacy, cloud and hybrid IT environment.
  • Integrate legacy and SDN/NFV-based networking environment for interoperability, manageability, scalability and performance.
  • Move from reactive to proactive network operations by leveraging analytics.
  • Enable networking functions on an open multi-vendor cloud environment.
  • Validate complex hybrid solutions through provisioning of network functions and users in the IBM SoftLayer Cloud.
  • Understand and test how enterprise workloads interact with the new carrier network technologies being deployed.

The IBM initiative is the latest example of numerous vendor efforts to help enterprises test the new-technology waters and explore SDN, NFV and other solutions. For example, Brocade offered a free one-year license for its Vyatta Controller to test SDN. And companies such as Big Switch Networks and Plexxi provide starter kits as an easy SDN onramp.

IBM didn't provide details on pricing or other conditions applicable to usage of the centers, nor indicate if more were planned.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.