All resources in the datacenter are converging. A typical Layer 2 (L2) Switching core from years ago looks different than it does today. New protocols have been developed that allow network administrators and engineers to cluster or mesh switches together. SpanningTree is a great protocol, and works when it comes to modern enterprise networks, many just cannot afford to have half of their inter connections in a blocking state, like so many passive spare tires on a car.
Dell’s Force10 solution is called VLT or Virtual Link Trunking. The switch cluster is treated as a whole, and each switch is fractions of the whole, allowing simpler maintenance than with traditional switch stacking alone. Clustered switches known as VLT Domains, act as one switch allowing the administrator to issue commands to the group, and will disable the entire cluster when performing maintenance. This saves time and allows IT groups to make changes in a true highly available nature.
Many switch vendors are adopting their own VLTlike protocols for converging L2 switches. It’s as simple and elegant as applying the cloud philosophy to the datacenter and enterprise LAN. With everything converging and distributing, options like VLT are making life easier, more productive and effective for everyone.