Upgraded Ethernet provision for carrier-grade networks or DCs: SPB delivers traffic on the shortest path available, enabling virtualization and real-time apps.

The design, operation and configuration of Ethernet networks has changed dramatically since their inception. Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) was designed in 1985, and remained an industry standard for more than 20 years in the deployment of Ethernet in local area networks (LANs).

However, the rise of virtualization and the cloud introduced challenges: networks needed more capacity, speed, scalability and flexibility. In 2006, Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) networks were developed to overcome the limitations of STP, and improved delivery of real-time communications like video streaming, VoIP and real-time messaging apps without an overhaul of the entire data center. It also makes Ethernet applicable for carrier-grade service provider networks, including back-haul networks and metro Ethernet.

What is Shortest Path Bridging?

Shortest Path Bridging uses a complete picture of the network to ensure that traffic takes as few "hops" as possible to reach its destination. In addition, nodes can recognize multiple available paths, then dynamically adjust to topology changes, making network virtualization easy — even in a multi-vendor, enterprise environment.

Known as "multi-path routing", this technique offers better fault tolerance, increased bandwidth and enhanced security. Not only does SPB reduce - and even eliminate - network bottlenecks, it also allows an enterprise to stop investing in redundant network links.

What are the benefits of Shortest Path Bridging?

  • SPB networks are less complex: Save time and effort by dynamically building and maintaining the network topology between nodes.
  • Operations are more efficient: Traffic can load share across all paths and uses all available physical connections to make more bandwidth available.
  • Your network is cloud-ready: Transform data center networks into private clouds quickly and easily.
  • Performance improves: Expect seamless, sub-second network changes by establishing a multi-path fabric for traffic distribution.
  • IT staff save time: Add, remove and relocate virtual machines using software configuration.
  • Reduce potential for human error with automatic configuration that preserves plug-and-play capabilities.

SPB: an open standard for success

SPB networking been standardized by both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), published as 802.1aq and RFC 6329 respectively. ALE actively supports SPB as the standard for network virtualization, so multi-vendor networks can reap the benefits of SPB.

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