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The technical details on Alcatel-Lucent's $40 million win over Cisco

Jean-Luc Ronarch, Director of Product Management, Networks Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, gives a technical backgrounder on why Alcatel switches are replacing Cisco switches:

Wed, 6/6/12 - 9:51pm    View comments

Alcatel-Lucent EnterpriseAdvocate Health CareTwo weeks ago Brad Reese pointed out that Alcatel-Lucent pounded a stake into Cisco's core router heart by taking Verizon Communications' business away from them.

Alcatel-Lucent has pounded the stake even deeper, as Advocate Health Care (AHC), joined the growing number of organizations leaving Cisco behind. They are investing $40 million in Alcatel-Lucent switches to create a private cloud by consolidating their data centers.

Largest Illinois healthcare system

For those of you who aren't from the Midwest, AHC is the largest healthcare system in Illinois and offers the largest emergency and Level 1 trauma network in the state. It has more than 250 sites of care including 10 acute-care hospitals, and two children's hospitals. With over 37,000 people employed at AHC at the various facilities, a large, complex voice, data, and computing infrastructure exists.

AHC wants and needs to drive their costs down and is consolidating data centers to do so. However, it seems when you tighten your belt one way, other expenses and issues are created. AHC knows that consolidating their data centers will create network challenges that include a need to increase their bandwidth, storage, and have more flexible network services available.

Beyond CiscoAHC started looking beyond Cisco when their existing solution lacked scalability and standardized service delivery. They wanted to move away from solutions based on proprietary protocols because they were keeping them from expanding beyond one geographical site and being able to deploy new technologies. Plus, AHC had to refresh the hardware once a year because of the lack of scalability and latency issues. In such a large organization that becomes very expensive.

The deficiencies in the network became readily apparent when they tried to virtualize their network. AHC wanted to simplify their data center operation by managing multiple switches as a single network element, but their switching couldn't work reliably that way.

When AHC decided to expand their search, they found that Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise architecture could deliver what they were looking for. AHC had evaluated Cisco's Nexus switches as well as solutions from HP, Brocade and Juniper, and then decided to go with Alcatel-Lucent because of our Application Fluent Network solution and because we've been satisfactorily providing their voice solution for the past 10 years. Our solutions will allow AHC to consolidate their data centers, benefiting from centralized management, virtualized IT functions, and lower costs from significantly reduced power consumption by Alcatel-Lucent switches.

The Roadmap to an Application-Fluent Data Center

The Roadmap to an Application-Fluent Data Center

AHC also selected us because of the architecture we had to offer them, a pod and mesh design, our mobility vision, integration to provide cloud services and above all else, our willingness to work with them.

Alcatel-Lucent Pod

Alcatel-Lucent Pod

Alcatel-Lucent Mesh

Alcatel-Lucent Mesh

OmniSwitch 6900OmniSwitch 10KThe design and methodology of our data center fabric is based on a pod and mesh architecture. The pods are 10GigE meshes created with our OmniSwitch 6900 switches that offer 2 microsecond latency.

They'll be connecting four of these pods to two of our OmniSwitch 10Ks in the core over 40GigE links. This particular mesh design can support 14,000 server ports and up to 169Tbps switch capacity across 10 48-unit racks with a latency of 5 microseconds.

Eventually AHC plans to scale up their core to 40GigE and possibly 100GigE using the OmniSwitch 10Ks.

Our mesh supports many advanced protocols including IEEE's Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) and Ethernet virtual Bridging for a lossless Ethernet fabric. SPB replaces Spanning Tree protocol in the fabric.

A key feature of our solution that AHC is adopting is the virtual network profile (vNP) which supports an application aware network and the ability to manage applications as a service with automatic performance tuning. vNP allows switches to enforce defined application profiles to prioritize, establish quality of service (QoS), attach security parameters and provision appropriate bandwidth and capacity for specific virtual machines. This makes the network ready for public, private or hybrid cloud-based service.

Virtual Network Profile (vNP)

AHC will benefit from being able to use all of their applications ranging from patient care and the whole administrative process involved with that care, communications such as email and unified communication.

AHC is just another example of how Alcatel-lucent Enterprise solutions give customers what they need and want for their enterprise networks to keep their users and customers happy.

Hybrid Cloud Model

Hybrid Cloud Model

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has won back-to-back "Best of Interop" (2012 and 2011) awards two years in a row. See for yourself how our solutions can provide your enterprise a network that addresses your requirements now and is scalable to address your future needs.

Comments or questions? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Please email me at:

View Cisco vs. Competitor Lab Tests.

Related stories:

Pounding a Stake in the Core - Advocate Health Care leaves Cisco behind

Largest Illinois healthcare system uproots Cisco to build $40M private cloud

Alcatel-Lucent 7950 XRS pounds stake into Cisco's core router heart

Changing the conversation: It's solutions, not boxes, that matter to enterprises

Grace Under Pressure - Lippis tests show 192 40GbE ports at wire speed with zero packets dropped

Cisco's a no show in the new Lippis 10/40GbE switch performance/power test report

Related blogs:

Alcatel-Lucent TechZine

Alcatel-Lucent Corporate Blog

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Blog

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