June 14, 2011, 5:58 PM — Brocade gear is powering a cutting-edge network that supports IPv6, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet for the U.S. Army at Fort Carson in Colorado.
The new network, which serves the 137,000-acre military base, was installed by General Dynamics, which said the four-year project cost $6 million. The piece of the network that provides non-secure Internet access -- dubbed NIPRNET in military terms -- runs on Brocade equipment.
BACKGROUND: U.S. military strong-arming IT industry on IPv6
The Army required that Brocade's routers support IPv4, the current version of the Internet Protocol, as well as the upgraded version known as IPv6. IPv6 features an expanded addressing scheme that can support vastly more devices connected directly to the Internet, but it is not backward compatible with IPv4.
"IPv6 is a driver," says Wes Medley, manager of systems engineering for Brocade's federal sales office. "We've been supporting network infrastructure upgrades since 2006 within the Army that have been fully compliant with IPv6 standards. ...What's unique about this base is that we've integrated IPv6, IPv4 and MPLS into the infrastructure, and we've provided Fort Carson with the capability to upgrade to 100 gigabit/second."
Ron Cibotti, Army section vice president at General Dynamics, says Brocade's gear was selected because it complied with military requirements for IPv6 and was lower priced than rival's gear.
"IPv6 is a standard right now that all the Ethernet providers have to have," Cibotti says. "There are five large OEMs -- Cisco, Brocade, Enterasys, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper -- that are certified to handle and perform IPv6. ... Brocade gave the best-value solution from a total cost of ownership, and General Dynamics bid and won with them.''
Brocade says Fort Carson's new network is one of its largest core-to-edge deployments of routers capable of 100Gbps Ethernet and switches capable of 10Gbps Ethernet. Brocade is providing its NetIron XMR routers for the network backbone and its IronView Network manager software for monitoring network traffic.
Medley says Brocade's "ability to do IPv4 and IPv6 dual stack at line rates gives the Army the flexibility to migrate to IPv6 functionality and not upgrade their infrastructure.''