Rugged SPB: A must have for road and rail

Rob Hemmerich
November 16, 2016

The OmniSwitch 6865 is the latest edition to the OmniSwitch family. And it's very special, as it's the world's only ruggedized Ethernet switch that supports Shortest Path Bridging (SPB, aka IEEE 802.1aq).

The OmniSwitch 6865 is the latest edition to the OmniSwitch family. And it's very special, as it's the world's only ruggedized Ethernet switch that supports Shortest Path Bridging (SPB, aka IEEE 802.1aq).

Why did we put SPB onto this switch? Three main reasons: cookies, ice cream and dust...It's scientifically proven! 

But in all seriousness, we put SPB on this switch because it’s faster to recover from failures, it’s more efficient in its use of the physical infrastructure, and it’s far simpler to provision services.

1. Faster convergence

Road and rail IP networks are big and complicated, and they are increasingly carrying mission-critical information (like, for example, trackside signaling). Old protocols like spanning tree are notoriously slow to re-converge, causing unwanted downtime across the network. By contrast, an SPB network, even a large one, should experience sub-second convergence times.

2. Efficient use of physical links

Adding a new physical link along a highway or along a section of track probably isn’t as straightforward as adding a link in a wiring closet. Every piece of copper or fiber is precious. But when you use spanning tree, you leave links unused to prevent loops. Or you create an entire ring that’s only put into service if your primary link fails (like in Ethernet Ring Protection). That’s really wasteful; with SPB, all links are put into use, and every service uses the shortest path.

3. Simplicity in provisioning

The reality with transportation networks is that technical staff are in short supply and turning up a new service or adding a new device needs to happen fast. With an SPB network, you need only provision the service once, at the edge of the network. What this means in practical terms is that your installer can go to the site to deploy, say, a new camera. With OmniSwitch Universal Network Profiles, the camera is recognized as such and is automatically provisioned into the right service with the right QoS profile and the right priority. No need to configure anything at the switch level. Compare this with a VLAN based network, where every switch in the path would need to be configured to achieve the same result and you can see why network architects fall in love with SPB’s inherent simplicity.

So there you have it: SPB at the rugged edge provides for more uptime thanks to faster reconvergence, more efficient use of your scarce wired infrastructure, and a simpler way to provision new services and devices. And thanks to the rest of the SPB-capable OmniSwitch family (OS10k, OS9900, OS6900 and OS6860e), our customers are deploying SPB from the data center to the very edge of the network -- even if that edge is roadside or trackside.

Rob Hemmerich

Rob Hemmerich

Director, NA Business Development, ALE

Rob Hemmerich has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 20 years, holding diverse roles in sales, marketing, program management and software development.

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