It would seem that Nortel will be releasing software 7.0 for the Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 in the very near future. I had a meeting with Nortel two weeks ago under a non-disclosure-agreement where we reviewed the upcoming 7.0 software release. I won’t violate the NDA but I will say that the majority of information provided appears to be readily available in documentation now posted to Nortel’s support website.
Let me answer your first burning question… what happened to version 6.x? Well it seems that the MERS (Metro Ethernet Routing Switch) product already had a 6.x version and there was work underway to merge the software code between the ERS and MERS products so the decision was made to skip straight to 7.x for both the ERS and MERS products. I should point out that the MERS product was NOT included in the sale to Avaya but instead falls under the MEN (Metro Ethernet Networking) division. I believe a few folks have erroneously reported that MERS is now a part of Avaya but I don’t believe that this the case, I will need to follow-up on that point with some Nortel/Avaya folks.
In my discussions with Nortel, and as evidenced by the documentation now avaialble, there was a focus on bringing a number of features (BPDU filtering, DHCP snooping, ARP inspection, IP source guard, IGMP querier, etc) available on the ERS 4500,5500,5600 series switches over to the ERS 8600. There was also a focus on delivering a software release that could truly run in an IPv6 environment including such features as IPv6 RSMLT, IPv6 VRRP, BGP+, IPv6 RADIUS and IPv6 DHCP relay.
Nortel has released an document entitled, Nortel Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 5.1 to 7.0 Release Delta, that highlights the majority of changes and features being introduced into the upcoming 7.0 software release. While the majority of the changes are software based there are two new hardware changes. The re-introduction of a 3 slot chassis (8003-R pictured above) and the 8695SF/CPU (pictured to the right) which is just an 8692SF/CPU with the SuperMezz permanently attached to the card.
- 8003-R 3-slot chassis
- 8695 SF/CPU
- Enterprise Device Manager (EDM)
- IP Multinetting
- BPDU Filtering
- DHCP snooping
- Dynamic ARP Inspection
- IP Source Guard
- IGMP Layer 2 querier
- Multicast VLAN Registration (MVR)
- PIM-SSM with SMLT
- Key Health Indicator (KHI) enhancements
- Route Switch Processor Packet Tracing
- ERCD Records Dump
- IPv6 RSMLT
- IPv6 VRRP
- IPv6 RADIUS
- IPv6 DHCP Relay
- Singular Record Operations
- show debug generic
I should note right up front that the 7.0 software release drops support and functionality for a number of legacy modules. Classic modules, including E and M modules, are not supported with release 7.0, and therefore must be removed before you perform an upgrade. You must also remove the nonsupported 8691 SF/CPU module and the 8692 SF/CPU module without SuperMezz (the 8692 SF/CPU module is supported if equipped with SuperMezz).
In previous releases the legacy modules were not supported but actually continued to work and function properly. In this release the modules will not work in any capacity.
As by a few users here and in the forums Nortel’s Java Device Manager (JDM) is going to be replaced by Enterprise Device Manager (EDM). EDM is a Web-based graphical user interface (GUI) for element management and configuration of the Ethernet Routing Switch 8600. EDM is an embedded application on the Ethernet Routing Switch, and the EDM Web server is the switch itself. You do not have to install any additional client software and there is no operating system dependency. EDM comes with each Ethernet Routing Switch and enables you to directly manage your switch. To access EDM, you must enable the Web server on the Ethernet Routing Switch 8600. By default, the Web server is disabled.
In my discussions with Nortel there’s not going to be any legacy support for JDM within the 7.0 software release. This essentially means you’ll need to use both tools to manage your network. I’m hopeful that Nortel/Avaya won’t abandon SNMP similar to what Cisco did with the Nexus product and their rush to XML.
I’m personally still searching for a stable code base to run my ERS 8600 switches. I’m hopeful that 18.104.22.168 (or 5.1.2 which I also hear could be released soon) is going to provide that stability. I’ve personally had fairly good success with 22.214.171.124 but I’m hoping to improve upon that with 126.96.36.199 and so far so good but definitely too early to tell just yet.
Update: December 29, 2009
The Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 software release 7.0 has entered Controlled Availability (CA) for the next 60 days. Nortel customers that wish to deploy the software must fill out a request form found on the Nortel support website. Nortel customers that deploy 7.0 during the controlled availability will have direct access to GNPS during which time performance and customer feedback will be closely monitored to ensure that it is ready for General Availability (GA). Additionally you can only run 7.0 software on switches that have an 8692SF/CPU with Mezz and R/RS modules only.