Cabletron, Bay Networks unveil new switches

Cabletron Systems Inc. and Bay Networks Inc. earlier this month introduced new switches with Cabletron unveiling workgroup and wiring closet Ethernet switches and Bay introducing a routing switch. Cabletron's SmartSwitch 6000 the company's new wiring closet switch supports up to 120 Ethernet ports in a single chassis and high-speed uplinks to Fast Ethernet Fiber Distributed Data Interface or Asynchronous Transfer Mode networks.

The SmartSwitch 2200 workgroup switch has 24 Ethernet and two Fast Ethernet ports and uplinks to FDDI or ATM. The products mark the first time the company has focused specifically on the Ethernet market. Trent Waterhouse Cabletron's program manager for local-area network switching said the Ethernet focus allows the company to deliver high-performance at a lower price than previous Cabletron switches built to support communications between all types of networks. "The market has always liked our performance but there has always been a price premium associated with that " Waterhouse said. "This specific focus allows us to deliver the same bandwidth at less price per port."

Waterhouse said that federal customers have largely remained Ethernet customers even in light of industry hype for more advanced networking technologies such as ATM. Consequently he said he expects to see the two new SmartSwitch models attract notice when they are added to the Army's Sustaining Base Information Services contract and the Air Force's Unified LAN Architecture II contract later this year. "The lion's share of installations in the federal government are Ethernet " he said.

The SmartSwitch 6000 chassis sells commercially for $2 995 and a 24-port Ethernet module with two optional Fast Ethernet ports goes for $6 795. For the same price a customer can buy a 24-port module with an optional ATM or FDDI uplink port. A 24-port Smart-Switch 2200 is priced at $6 095. Waterhouse said that each module in the 6000 chassis contains its own application-specific integrated circuit which allows managers to increase switch performance when adding users as opposed to dividing the switches' capacity.

Bay Speeds Routing Bay Networks meanwhile introduced the Switch Node a switch designed to make routing faster by sitting in front of an existing router and forwarding any Internet Protocol or Internet Packet Exchange traffic from any of the subnets to which it is connected. "Without upgrading existing routers government users can improve performance of their networks with the Switch Node " said Gary Southwell Bay Networks' director of product marketing. "Government agencies are unique in [that] they tend to hold on to equipment longer and don't want painful upgrades.

That's why we think this is a good fit." Installation of the Switch Node is transparent to routers servers and users on the network Southwell said. It is also easy to install and provides five times the performance at half the cost of a Cisco Systems Inc. 7200 router he added.

The Switch Node delivers wire-speed switching and low latencies at Layer 2 and Layer 3. It forwards data at around 1 million packets per second. It is targeted at campus environments with heavy subnet-to-subnet traffic. "Government agencies have had IP networks for a long time and the subnet structures are already in place " said networking analyst Tom Nolle president of CIMI Corp. "The Switch Node would be a good way to make a high-performance connection between those subnets."

Available in May will be the five-slot chassis 16-port 10Base-T switching module eight-port 10Base-FL switching module and two-port 100Base-TX switching module. Other modules will be available in the third quarter.

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