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Interop 2010 Show Winners

This year's competition shines a light on the very best that IT vendors have to offer in cloud computing, network management, security, virtualization, wireless, and more. We also picked a top startup and gave out a green award.

Category: Infrastructure

Arista Networks -- Arista 7500

Judges: Mike Fratto, Network Computing; Howard Marks, Networks Are Our Lives

Bigger and faster is the hallmark of any data center switch. Typically data center switch architectures comprised half- and full-rack-sized switch chassis that aggregate end-of-row or top-of-rack switches, which might also be aggregated making three hops from server to core. Arista's 7500 radically increases capacity with a 10-Tb backplane in a compact form factor. This switch represents the type of core data center switch you'll be running in a few years: high capacity, low latency, low power draw, and small form factor.

The 7500 packs 384 non-blocking 10-GB ports with 4.5 microseconds of delay into a 11RU chassis. Priced at $140,000, the 7500 is a high-capacity, low-cost switch. The 7500 is DCB ready and can support Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. In addition, each blade comes with 2.4 GB of frame buffer to queue frames in the event of congestion. That's enough buffer space to queue up 50 microseconds of 10-Gb traffic per port. No worries about dropped frames.

The 7500 is a modular switch, so you can add capacity as you need and its uses the same extensible operating system across all of its switching products for simple management. The capacity of the 7500 means you can remove switching tiers that were required to aggregate traffic to a core switch, attach to a single access tier and then move right to the core. If you have the cabling, you can remove the access tier altogether.

Face it, with virtualization, your data center looks less like a server farm and more like an high-performance computing cluster. That requires a switching infrastructure and can move large amounts of data quickly and reliably. The Arista 7500 has the horsepower and that's why it won Best of Interop.

-- Mike Fratto

Category: Network Management, Monitoring & Testing

ExtraHop Networks -- Network Timeout

Judges: Mike Fratto, Network Computing; Howard Marks, Networks Are Our Lives

Extrahop's Network Timeout is a free application analysis tool that takes packet captures and presents application analysis reports that can be used for trouble shooting and application performance management. Unlike packet analysis programs like Wireshark and Wild Packets OmniPeek that excel at packet decoding and low-level troubleshooting, Network Timeout performs application analysis from layer 2 through 7. If you have ever tried to determine why applications are performing poorly with a packet analyzer, you'll understand why Network Timeout won Best of Interop for Network Management, Monitoring and Testing.

Network Timeout presents applications through a series of graphs that break out performance information, such as packets per second, request and response times, and transaction details. It's easy to get lost in Network Timeout's interface at first because of all the analysis that's available. Network Timeout's analysis pulls out alerts such as lost packets, re-transmits, and even failed DNS queries so you can pinpoint failure easily.

The application analysis is equally detailed. HTTP analysis breaks out HTTP queries, the types of elements request and sent. Network Timeout even handles complex protocols like file transfers and can show what files users are accessing.

Analyzed files can be shared with others to that you can team up on troubleshooting and analysis. Extrahop is also trying to build up a community of users who can help interpret the analysis and assist in troubleshooting.

Network Timeout does require full-packet captures, so anything that's uploaded may contain sensitive information like usernames and passwords. If you want to share captures, be sure to scrub them first. There's a 30-MB limit on captures, but that's often enough to pinpoint problems. Network Timeout's excellent analytic capabilities will help anyone tasked with performance management and troubleshooting.

-- Mike Fratto

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