New Cabletron module converts switches

Networking company Cabletron Systems has unveiled a product that converts network switches into routers.

The product, unveiled this week at the ComNet technology exposition in Washington, D.C., comes in the form of a module that plugs into the company's "workhorse" network switch — SmartSwitch 6000 — said Brady Cole, senior product marketing manager for Cabletron.

SmartSwitch 6000 already is in use in the federal market and will be included in the renovation of the Pentagon, said Mike Brazawski, federal marketing manager for Cabletron.

Cole said the new switch module, called the Advanced Router Module (ARM), should appeal to agencies that may not have the need or the resources to buy a high-powered, stand-alone router. The ARM will sell for about $9,000.

Moreover, the new module should not take up much space in the wiring closet of a network. It plugs in to become part of the SmartSwitch itself and gives the switch the ability to route — not just switch — data traffic.

Switching entails transmitting packets of data along simple lines of a network — from one node, such as a computer, to another node, such as a printer, for example. Routing is a more sophisticated level of filtering and directing data traffic, and entails channeling data throughout networks or pieces of networks.

The new ARM should enable a basic switch to handle 6 million packets of data per second, compared with 2.2 million packets per second without the module, Cole said.

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