Dell this week is taking its LAN switch business up a notch with its first foray into Layer 3 switching.The PowerConnect 6000 series has two models, each of which has 24 standard ports. On one model, they\u2019re fiber-optic ports, and on the other, they\u2019re copper ports.Dell already offers several types of LAN switches in the PowerConnect line, mostly operating at Layer 2. The PowerConnect 2000 series of switches are unmanaged; they range from 16 to 24 ports of Fast Ethernet or eight to 16 ports of Gigabit Ethernet. The two models of the 3000 series are managed boxes with 24 and 48 ports of Fast Ethernet. And the two models of the 5000 series contain up to 24 managed ports of Gigabit Ethernet.Dell is positioning the newest switches as aggregators in large corporate network backbones or as server switches for a data center.The switches have a full 48G bit\/sec switching capacity. They support routing protocols such as RIP Versions 1 and 2 and OSPF Versions 1 and 2. They can support up to 12,000 unicast routes and 256 multicast groups.Security features are built in, such as support for Secure Sockets Layer, Secure Shell and RADIUS. Quality-of-service controls include Layer 2-4 classification, policing, and rate limiting. Eight priority queues are included per port.The switches can be managed with Dell\u2019s own OpenManage software, through a command-line interface or via an embedded Web server management tool.The PowerConnect 6024 and 6024F are shipping now for $3,500.