Virtualization in Interop spotlight

With a focus on building virtualization into advanced data centers, the network industry will convene at its largest trade show this week in Las Vegas.

Nortel, Cisco, Foundry Networks and Avocent are set to detail enhanced data center products and directions, while such companies as Citrix Systems and Polycom will enhance security, application acceleration, videoconferencing and security wares.

The show kicks off amid a conflicting economic backdrop. While many vendors are having good financial years, others such as Cisco, Extreme Networks and Foundry have had some bumpy financials related to enterprise spending.

Any negativity isn’t spilling into Interop however, as officials say attendance is up 25% from last year and scores of vendors will be making significant announcements.

Nortel and Foundry are two of them. Both plan to push hard on data centers and virtualization, which will be among the key themes at the conference.

Nortel is rolling out a new switch to virtualize services provided by several devices, including firewalls, application switches and SSL-acceleration appliances. The VSS 5000 switch consolidates and virtualizes these functions onto a single device, then orchestrates and provisions services to different enterprise departments or workgroups.

Nortel also is adding a new release of software to its Enterprise Routing System 8600 core switch. The software, Release 5.0, extends virtual services for LAN and data centers across the enterprise campus or metro network. It provisions services to all environments as a Layer 3 VPN, using existing MPLS control-plane RFCs, Nortel says. A version supporting campus/metro Layer 2 VPNs, based on Provider Link State Bridging, is slated for next year, the company says.

VSS 5000 will be available in the fourth quarter, and Release 5.0 of the ERS 8600 will be available later this quarter.

Foundry is unveiling a 16-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for its BigIron RX data center switch for high-density connectivity of servers and storage devices. The module brings the BigIron RX switch’s 10G density to 512 ports, which Foundry claims is double the 10G density of competitive data-center switches from Cisco and Force10 Networks, and quadruples the packet-per-second performance.

Foundry is also unveiling a 48-port Gigabit Ethernet module for its NetIron MLX router that’s designed to increase server aggregation and reduce the number of network elements in a data center. The module more than doubles the Gigabit Ethernet density of MLX-32, from 640 ports to 1,536.

The BigIron 16-port 10G Ethernet module costs $35,000 and will ship in August. The MLX 48-port Gigabit Ethernet module also costs $35,000 and will ship in the fourth quarter.

Foundry also is targeting 802.11n wireless LANs for an Interop debut. (Compare Enterprise Wireless LANproducts.) The company is upgrading its IronPoint Mobility WLAN line with two new 11n access points, and two other access points that can be converted to 11n, unlocked by a software "key" when the customer deems the time is right. The new access points cost $1,595 and $1,795, and the upgradeable access points cost $1,245 and $1,495.

Foundry also is taking the wraps off a new controller, the MC5000, that supports as many as 1,000 access points and 10Gbps of switching capacity in a five-blade chassis. Fully loaded, the box has a list price of $31,095. All products are available in June.

Cisco, meanwhile, plans to deliver a keynote address on the role the data center plays in providing universal access to content from any device. The vendor will be making announcements around how customers can incorporate video into their communication and collaboration strategies, but revealed no details. The company also will demonstrate some of its latest collaboration products.(Compare Collaboration products.)

Also on the topic of the data center, Avocent will unveil a software plug-in that the company says will enable IT managers to control power consumption better and plan for future capacity in their data centers. The DSView 3 Power Manager enables data center managers to measure power consumption and energy usage of IT equipment in near-real time.

DSView 3 Power Manager is slated for general availability this July, and pricing starts at just under $5,000.VoIP and unified communications, and 802.11n wireless also will be top-of-mind at Interop.Attendees can expect to hear about:

Security, application acceleration,

* Citrix is announcing faster hardware that boosts the speed of its NetScaler platform’s load-balancing and content-switching from 6G bytes/sec to more than 15G bytes/sec.(Compare Application Acceleration and WAN Traffic Optimization products.) The company says the new hardware also reduces power consumption by 50% compared to earlier models and measured as the cost per gigabyte of data, per second. NetScaler MPX will be available at the end of April.

*  Polycom will show a new home-office router that includes QoS capabilities to shape audio and video traffic to avoid congestion and improve videoconferencing quality. Video Border Proxy (VBP) 200 prioritizes video and audio packets over data packets to make the most of home broadband connections of 256K to 512Kbps. The device is designed to work in tandem with Polycom’s V 700 video monitor-microphone-speaker unit to support business-quality videoconferencing for less than $4,000.

* Adtran is introducing a stand-alone IP PBX with more features and IP phones at the show. NetVanta 7060 is an IP PBX that supports digital and analog trunks and a Session-Initiation-Protocol-aware firewall, as well as Power-over-Ethernet ports to power IP phones directly. NetVanta 7060 will ship in June and costs $9,800 for a unit with 24 phones. Compare IP PBX products.) Two new phones, IP 706 and IP 712, have six and 12 program keys and cost $249 and $299 respectively.

* Array Networks will announce it has expanded its SSL VPN protection from only remote access users to include users coming in over Wi-Fi connections, and basing authentication on users’ identities. WiFiProtect is new software that runs on the company’s SPX Universal Access Controller hardware and incorporates three new technologies uniquely supporting Wi-Fi, the company says. Wireless users are directed to a portal where they log on, then are diverted to the appropriate VLAN.

* E-mail and Internet-content-security vendor Marshal Software will debut its MailMarshal e10000 e-mail security product. The vendor has packaged the software as a virtual appliance that can be installed on a VMware ESX server within the corporate DMZ. Marshal representatives say the virtual appliance will protect against threats including network identification, spam, fraud, viruses, regulatory noncompliance and intellectual-property theft. MailMarshal e10000 is expected to be available within 30 days, priced at around $1,000. (Compare Messaging Security products.)

* Blue Lane Technologies will showcase the latest version of its virtual appliance for securing virtual servers. VirtualShield 4.2 includes an application-aware firewall, which enables the software to enforce application, protocol and vulnerability policy controls. The software also can protect virtual machines against such attacks as SQL injections, cross-site scripting and HTTP smuggling. Scheduled to be available May 15, VirtualShield 4.2 costs about $500 per VMware server. n

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