Cabletron modules to integrate fiber optics directly into switches

Cabletron Systems Inc. next month will begin shipping a family of modules for its SmartSwitch 6000 that will allow users to integrate fiber optics directly into their Cabletron switches.The company last month introduced four new 24-port 10BaseFL Ethernet Smart-Switches designed specifically for its federal customers who need fiber connectivity in their wiring closet devices.

Robert Travis the program director for Cabletron's federal government business unit said the modules will be most useful to agencies operating classified networks. "There are a lot of federal organizations with a lot of fiber going directly to desktops for security reasons " Travis said. "We get a lot of requests for fiber connectivity in classified networks. This product allows them to support that."

Craig Johnson principal analyst at Current Analysis Ashburn Va. said the ability to support fiber connectivity is critical to companies such as Cabletron that are targeting federal users. Although he had not evaluated the new Cabletron modules Johnson said they were likely to draw interest at least from federal personnel at sites such as the Pentagon where fiber optics have become a huge concern."In most secure environments these guys want to run big-time fiber " he said.

The modules offer four connectivity options for single-mode and multimode-fiber cable each with either two Fast Ethernet Port Interface Module (FE-PIM) slots or a single High-Speed Interface Module (HSIM) slot. The FE-PIM connection can connect the switch to a backbone network or a local high-speed server while the HSIM slot can provide connectivity to local- or wide-area networks.

Travis said the FE-PIM capability will allow agencies to run Fast Ethernet frames over Synchronous Optical Network rings at speeds ranging from 45 megabits/sec to 622 megabits/sec. "In some areas where our customers have Sonet rings they think they have to have [Asynchronous Transfer Mode] capability " he said. "But Fast Ethernet can be more cost-effective. You don't have to put down an ATM overlay where it may not be required."

The HSIM option allows users to connect to ATM Fiber Distributed Data Interface or networks based on other technologies Travis said. He added that Cabletron is working on an HSIM for networks running at gigabit speeds. "Customers will have a method to get to any topology " he said.

A Cabletron spokesman said the modules will be available on all the indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts that now include Cabletron equipment such as NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II the Navy's PC LAN+ the Air Force's Unified Local-Area Network Architecture II the Army's Sustaining Base Information Services and the Defense Department's Tempo. The modules also will be available through three resellers via the General Services Administration's schedule program.

Multimode modules are priced commercially at less than $500 per port. Single-mode modules are priced at less than $800 per port.

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