Advanced switching grabs Interop New York spotlight

Foundry, Enterasys and Force 10 among those making announcements


Switching will take center stage at this week's Interop New York conference, where vendors such as Foundry Networks, Enterasys Networks and Force 10 Networks will roll out new and enhanced products in defiance of a downcast IT spending environment.

Switching will take center stage at this week’s Interop New York conference, where vendors such as Foundry Networks, Enterasys Networks and Force 10 Networks will roll out new and enhanced products in defiance of a downcast IT spending environment

A common theme among the announcements will be support for next-generation environments, such as those harnessing video, unified communications, IPv6 and embedded security that is identity based and policy driven. The Foundry and Enterasys offerings will tackle these requirements on behalf of smaller businesses and workgroups rather than core data centers, a recent market trend in switching.

“They’re light versions of their flagship products,” says Steve Schuchart, an enterprise network systems analyst at Current Analysis. “They’re designed to move a little bit more down market without losing all of the functionality —- bring stackability, especially for things like VoIP — without dragging all of the Layer 3 [features] along.”

Despite the switching activity that will take place at the show, Interop New York will be minus at least a few key players, including Juniper Networks, which recently began shipping a line of enterprise LAN switches, and Extreme Networks. Cisco will have a presence at the event, with one of its vice presidents on the keynote address slate, but isn’t planning any sort of product blowout.

As usual, Interop New York is much smaller than the annual spring Interop event in Las Vegas, though show organizers say numbers will be greater than a year ago.

More than 200 exhibitors are scheduled to show their wares, an increase of 16% over last year, and new participants include Dell, HP, Lenovo, Symantec, Palm and Logitech. Show organizers also expect close to 8,000 attendees, a 14% increase from last year. The event is co-located with complementary shows dedicated to mobile computing and Web 2.0 technologies.

In all, there will be more than 30 announcements at Interop, conference organizers say. Some of the others include:

* The FCC granting approval for Aruba Networks to use Software Defined Radio and Dynamic Frequency Selection technology in its 802.11n access points, which will enable access to otherwise prohibited 5.3GHz and 5.4zGHz military radar channels, and software downloads to access points over the network.

* A release of Agito Networks’ RoamAnywhere Mobility fixed/mobile convergence router for secure VoWLAN, dynamic least-cost routing, and broadened support for PBX and Symbian/Windows Mobile handsets.

* GigaVUE-2404, a high-density network monitoring device for 10Gbps networks from Gigamon.

* Ipanema Technologies’ introduction of the Intelligent Acceleration system, which both accelerates and guarantees the performance of WAN business applications.

But network switching is where a lot of the action will be.

Leading the pack will be Foundry, which will unveil a switching line for small and midsize businesses, branch offices and distributed enterprise workgroups (compare access switches), plus stackables and stacking upgrades for existing switches.

Foundry’s entrée begins with the FastIron Workgroup Switch (FWS), a line of 1RU fixed-configuration fast and gigabit Ethernet access devices. FWS features eight versions of 24- and 48-port switches, with either 10/100Mbps or 10/100/1000Mbps interfaces, including four gigabit uplink ports. Four of the models support Power over Ethernet (PoE) for VoIP and unified communications applications.

Embedded security features include DHCP snooping and dynamic ARP inspection to thwart DoS attacks; user-based policy deployment via IEEE 802.1x; and Foundry’s own IronShield 360 multilayer security architecture for monitoring, intrusion detection and prevention, sFlow-based behavior analysis and NAC.

For energy efficiency, the FWS switches consume less than 35 watts per 24 ports, Foundry says.

The FWS switches are also upgradeable to Layer 3 functionality, Foundry says. They cost from $1,200 to $3,700.

Foundry is also rolling out two new stackable switches at the show, as well as s stacking option for existing switches. The FastIron GS-STK and LS-STK stackable switches come in 24- and 48-port models – the GS line supports PoE. The switches support 40Gbps of stacking bandwidth per unit.

Foundry competitor Enterasys will roll out a new stackable line that features integral 10Gbps Ethernet ports, IPv6 support, and increased bandwidth and throughput vs. its earlier stackables.

The SecureStack C3 is designed for Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet access at the network edge with automatic discovery, classification and prioritization of IP telephony, HD video conferencing and business intelligence analytics traffic. The C3 line features optional 15.4 watt IEEE 802.3af PoE for wireless access points, VoIP telephones and IP security cameras, along with identity-based policies to help assure service-level agreements and prevent security incidents based on user and application access privileges.

In a stack of eight, the C3 supports a maximum of 384 10/100/1000Mbps copper ports with PoE, 192 gigabit fiber ports and 16 10Gbps connections, Enterasys says. IPv4, IPv6 and IP Multicast routing are supported as well.The switches feature 571.2 million packet/sec of throughput and 1.54Tbps of bandwidth. By contrast, Enterasys’ previous top-end stackable, the SecureStack C2, features 1Tbps of bandwidth and 285.7Mbps of throughput.

Eight hardware-based QoS priority queues are available per C3 port with support for 16,000 Layer 2 media access control (MAC) addresses and 1,024 virtual LANs (VLAN), Enterasys says.

Pricing starts at $145 per port.

Moving from the stack to the data center, Force 10 will emphasize its software prowess at the show. The company is unveiling a new version of its FTOS operating system software with network management, security and power efficiency enhancements.

The software extensions follow recent announcements by the company of a module for its C-series switches that combines both copper and fiber GigE interfaces with 10-GigE to offer port diversity on a single line card to help customers move from GigE to 10-GigE; and integration of the C-series switches with IBM’s System Cluster 1350 data center systems, including the System x iDataPlex.

This week’s FTOS enhancements will build on those developments by delivering the tools that let organizations optimize their networks based on unique application and traffic requirements, Force10 says. The software automatically senses power requirements of connected devices and provisions the needed amount using the LLDP protocol.

FTOS also now features more proactive monitoring of software and hardware faults, and notification of a problem before it affects stability of a converged network.

FTOS includes security features that can be set and optimized by organizations. IT can be used to authenticate and automatically assign users to pre-established VLANs based on predefined policies.

To support video on the network, FTOS enables network administrators to categorize and manage streaming, multicast and broadcast traffic. Additionally, FTOS is designed to protect the network from backdoor vulnerabilities that may be created by user configuration errors, and limits the number of recognized MAC addresses per port to prevent unknown systems from gaining access to the network, Force10 says.

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