What do a model/actress and an IEEE internetworking protocol standard have in common? Both have been undeservedly maligned.
Don't hate me because I am...
Many of you are old enough to remember that shampoo ad from the 80s featuring Kelly Le Brock, a.k.a. the “Lady in Red,” where she says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” If you are not, it’s worth You-tubing. Well, we—at least I—didn’t hate her for it. How could she help it if she was? And how can SPB (Shortest Path Bridging) help it if it is simple? Is that a crime? Is it bad to be simple? Does it mean that it is weak, deficient, unsubstantial, inferior, or otherwise an object of scorn? Speaking on behalf of SPB, I say, “Don’t hate me because I am simple.”
Simple is good, provided that it doesn’t come at the expense of power or flexibility or resiliency. Fortunately with SPB, you get it all and it’s simple. That’s right. It really is easy to use, easy to configure, easy to provision, easy to roll out, easy to troubleshoot, and easy to maintain. In our age of technicians with trailing acronyms behind their names, it is easy to succumb to the notion that the longer the certifications train the higher the caliber of the person.
In some circles, the number of CLI lines required to configure a feature directly represents its value in the firmament of functionality. We have often confused complexity with desirability. It is a mistake to do so. Complexity does not necessarily translate into power, and there is no direct correlation between how challenging a technology is to work with and how vitally important it is to have it in one’s network. On the contrary, a strong argument can be made that simplicity and ease are always desirable over complexity and difficulty, all other things being equal, of course.
...an unsung hero
SPB is an unsung hero. It is the natural successor to STP (Spanning Tree Protocol), only without the inevitable hangover that comes with indulging in STP. Could it be that SPB has been passed over by some precisely because it is so logical, so straightforward, and so relatively easy that its virtues of resiliency, flexibility, and overall power have been unwittingly ignored? After all, it doesn’t require a CCSPBLMNOP certification to use it. But is that a bad thing?
Talk to any networking person presiding over an SPB-based network and you will find that they are religious about it, oftentimes bordering on the fanatical. At least that’s all I have ever encountered. They will regale you with tales of, well, nothing all that exciting. No stories of provisioning nightmares or PhD-level training programs that they had to undergo. No endless hours hunched over the console to get the thing going and to keep it in operation. They won’t have much exciting at all to say, except that the nightmares of STP no longer plague them, and the stuff works. It works.
...powerful, resilient, easy to deploy and maintain
Don’t hate Shortest Path Bridging because it is simple. It is also powerful, resilient, and very easy to deploy and maintain. In light of this, one might even say that SPB is beautifully simple. Oh, and did I say that it was very cost-effective. Yeah, it’s that too.
You won’t know what SPB can do for you until you try it. Try it, and you’ll like it. It’s that simple!
If you're interested in how SPB can make a difference for your network, there's a great white paper on how simple SPB can be for your network. And don't just trust me, our customers are getting it too -- folks at Abilene Christian University have adopted SPB for a "simplified, more scalable and bandwidth-optimized network". The Universidad de Extremadura is another example of the customers from different regions and verticals who are seeing the benefits of SPB. Take a look and feel free to let us know your thoughts here, too!
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