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Data center 10G whets switching companies' appetites

Brocade, Extreme, Force10 address rack and core; "new" entrant 3Com looks to disrupt status quo

By , Network World
May 11, 2009 12:03 AM ET

Network World - Announcements from four vendors this week highlight a growing trend in data center networking: the rapid uptake of 10 Gigabit Ethernet to accommodate increasing computational and storage density brought on by application growth, increasing use of blade servers and large-scale virtualization.

See a slideshow of these products.

Brocade, Extreme Networks, 3Com and Force10 Networks are all unveiling new or enhanced products designed to accommodate the growing use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in data centers. The products range from a core switch to end-of-row and top-of-rack devices, and modules that support very high density 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet aggregation.

Read separate stories on some of the announcements:

Extreme, Force10 address growing 10G use in data centers
3Com takes another shot at enterprise switching, hoping third time is a charm

Users are deploying 10G Ethernet to aggregate hundreds of Gigabit Ethernet server connections and even linking 10G Ethernet server network-interface cards into the data center switching fabric. In fact, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is peaking right now, vendors say, just before 40/100G Ethernet products and standards are expected beginning late this year.

Brocade feels the time is right to unveil its first 10G Ethernet top-of-rack switch. The company's TurboIron 24X is a 1RU device supporting 24 10G Ethernet SFP+ ports and line rate, non-blocking performance of 488Gbps. The TurboIron 24X also features 1/10G Ethernet dual-speed ports to assist users in migrating from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and four 10/100/1000Mbps copper for ports shorter range and lower speed server connections.

Brocade says the TurboIron 24X offers a 40% to 65% reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) over a five-year period compared with Cisco's Nexus 5000 and 4900M switches, Extreme's X650 and Force10's S2410. These figures include the cost of powering and cooling the switch, according to Brocade.

Brocade also is introducing a stackable switch for campus networks that the company says supports the highest Power over Ethernet (PoE) Plus stackable port density. PoE Plus is an extension of the PoE standard for video support, among other features.

The FastIron CX is available in 24- or 48-port PoE or non-PoE models in a 1RU form factor. It can support as many as 26 PoE Plus ports with redundant power, includes four 100/1000Mbps fiber uplinks, and an optional two port 10G Ethernet module.

Lastly, Brocade is unveiling an application switch for service providers designed to scale performance and density as data centers and content demands grow. The ServerIron ADX supports 70Gbps of Layer 4-7 throughput and 16 million Layer 4 transactions per second in a 320Gbps switch fabric. It is available in fixed and chassis configurations with interchangeable modules, Brocade says.

The TurboIron 24X costs $12,000. The FastIron CX costs $5,500 and the ServerIron ADX costs $22,000. All are scheduled to be available in the third quarter.

Instead of new switches, Brocade competitor Extreme is set to unveil new modules for its existing BlackDiamond 8800 chassis that effectively make it into a new switch — which Extreme calls the BlackDiamond 8900.

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