Frequently Asked Questions
Nortel’s Resilient Terabit Cluster solution and the Ethernet Routing Switch
THIS IS THE WAY WE BUILD THE CAMPUS NETWORK FOR TOMORROW’S APPLICATIONS
1. What is a Resilient Terabit Cluster?
A Resilient Terabit Cluster is a collection of 8600 switches; usually in combinations of two;
2, 4, etc. that function together as one logical switch. Resiliency technologies such as Split
Multi-Link Trunking and Distributed Multi-Link Trunking provide the base resiliency
technology for this clustering solution. This provides a solution that can provide sub second
failover in the event a switch, card, power supply or chassis were to go down. Working
together these switches provide the reliability required for communication applications like
CRM, ERP, VoIP and collaboration tools. Clusters or groups of switches can be located
throughout the network to provide a virtual network fabric. These remote clusters work
together to provide network wide resiliency and provide the maximum available for network
2. Where is a Resilient Terabit Cluster used in the network?
A Resilient Terabit Cluster is typically used it the network core. By using the Ethernet
Routing Switch 8600 in the core of the network, all traffic traveling across the network core
can benefit from the services provided.
3. Why does a Resilient Terabit Cluster/Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 provide a better
network solution for converged applications?
The Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 provides a large number of 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports
which can be used for aggregating high speed wiring closet connections as well as multiple
10 gigabit Ethernet connections for connections into the network backbone. In addition, to
the large amount of bandwidth available for jitter and delay sensitive traffic, the 8600
provides up to 15,000 hardware queues which are used to segment and prioritize traffic.
By prioritizing traffic by application, jitter or delay sensitive application traffic can flow thru
the network without experiencing delays which could affect the quality of communications;
ie. Poor voice or video quality.
4. How does a Resilient Terabit Cluster work? What technologies make it possible?
A Resilient Terabit Cluster uses Nortel differentiated technologies such as Split Multi-Link
Trunking (SMLT) as well as Routed Split Multi-Link Trunking (RSMLT) to provide the
resiliency that is combined with high density 10 gigabit Ethernet connections to deliver this
solution. Groups of two switches are able to function logically as one. This logical ability
helps the 8600 deliver sub second failover between the systems as well as maximizing the
edge to core connections. Terabit performance is supplied by the 8600s and its 720 Gbps
architecture. Multiple switches functioning logically as one switch provide multi-Terabit
5. What is a “virtual” network fabric?
A “virtual” network fabric within the Resilient Terabit Cluster describes the result of
interconnecting clusters of Ethernet Routing Switch 8600s within a network. By connecting
clusters of 8600s throughout the network customers can create a network which provides
sub second failover not only within a specific site but network wide. In addition, a network
site can utilize service modules; like the Service Delivery Module; that reside within a
remote system in the network and provide those services throughout the network, thereby
“virtualizing” services like firewalling or SSL offloading across the entire network.
6. How is the Resilient Terabit Cluster different from what Nortel has been able to do in
the past with the 8600?
In the past the 8600 has provided industry leading resiliency for the network core. Today,
Nortel is able to combine industry leading resiliency with Terabit performance. In addition,
with the implementation of clustering technology Nortel’s Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 can
take the combination of resiliency and terabit performance and distribute it throughout the
network creating a virtual network fabric. This virtual network fabric is powered by large
numbers of high bandwidth 10 gigabit Ethernet links. Overall, the ability to scale resilient,
secure high bandwidth solutions like the Resilient Terabit Cluster is what Nortel does best.
This is the way. This is Nortel.
7. How do we calculate the Terabit capability?
The Terabit speeds of the Resilient Terabit cluster are based upon a cluster of 8600s.
Each 8600 has a 720 Gbps architecture. By combining 4 switches in a cluster, the solution
has an architecture which can support more than 2 Terabits of data.
8. Is the Resilient Terabit Cluster solution only available with Nortel products?
No, the Resilient Terabit Cluster can work with vendor complaint switches in the wiring
closets. However, 8600s are required for the core switches. Vendor compliant switches
need only to support 802.3ad to be a edge member of Resilient Terabit Cluster solution.
9. What are the benefits of a Resilient Terabit Cluster?
The benefits of a Resilient Terabit Cluster include;
- More productive employees
- Reduced network costs
- Creating a competitive advantage
By providing a high bandwidth resilient secure network solution customers can implement
converged applications which help employees collaborate and communicate more
effectively. With effective converged applications employees can work whenever and
where ever they need to. This in turn allows the organization to more effective and more
responsive to the business and its customers.
By providing network solutions that work together, are managed together and can scale as
your business scales, customers can leverage their investment to its maximum potential.
This unified management approach can reduce the costs of operating the network. The
scalability of the solution provides a “pay as you grow” type network solution which allows
customers to maximize the amount they spend today over the life of the product.
A network that can meet the business’ needs and can provide the connectivity required by
today’s mobile workforce allows a company to be more competitive. Whether the
competitive edge is in providing customers with better customer service or an internal sales
force with better prospecting tools, all of these translate into a better way to build a
10. Who can benefit from a Resilient Terabit Cluster?
Most mid to large Enterprises can benefit from implementing a Resilient Terabit Cluster.
The solution can scale as the business grows. Customers can start with one 8600 in the
core with two switch fabrics and grow to 4, 8 or even 16 core system clusters scattered
throughout the network. All implementations can benefit from the performance, security
and lower total cost of ownership this solution provides. Any business with customers and
valuable customer, partner or back office information can utilize the Resilient Terabit
Cluster solution to respond to customers and their business more quickly, efficiently and in
some cases better than they ever thought possible.
11. Where can I get more information?
PIC: Partner Information Center/Products by Brand/Passport 8600
Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 technical documents are located on the Nortel web site;