Cisco, others expand 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches

The rollouts could signal a move into mainstream corporate applications

Cisco Systems Inc. last week added two supervisor engines with 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports to its midrange and high-end switch lines, and Alcatel and Hewlett-Packard Co. both plan to announce new switches that support the technology today.

The rollouts by the three vendors are further evidence that 10 Gigabit Ethernet core switching is poised to move beyond its existing uses in research centers and universities and expand into mainstream corporate applications, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

"Customers want Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop, which means you need 10 Gig at the core for uplinks and server connectivity," he said.

Clarian Health Partners Inc., a group of three hospitals in Indianapolis, has already installed about 15 of Cisco's Catalyst 6500 core switches with 10 Gigabit Ethernet capability. Now Clarian plans to order more than 200 Catalyst 4500 midrange switches for use in wiring closets on every floor in its 17 buildings, which are being connected by a new OC-192 network, said Tom Jones, a technology architect at the health care provider.

Jones said some of the switches will be used to support high-bandwidth imaging applications in Clarian's cardiology and radiology departments and will include the new Catalyst 4500 Supervisor Engine V-10GE, which supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet transmission rates.

Necessary Investment

The Cisco products will cost Clarian "many millions" of dollars, Jones said. But the network and a new patient-care system are "the heart of the business," he added. "We had to make this network investment as well as [investments in] servers and applications to be successful."

The new supervisor engine for the Catalyst 4500 is available now and supports two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports at a cost of $19,995, Cisco said. The Catalyst 6500 line is also being expanded with an engine that has the same number of ports and sells for $20,000. It's scheduled to ship in February.

All together, Cisco announced more than 20 higher-capacity switching products for the Catalyst family, as well as Power Over Ethernet capabilities for several existing switches. In addition, the company introduced its first Gigabit Ethernet-capable IP phone, priced at $845.

HP said it plans to announce the ProCurve Switch 6400cl, a series of six-port stackable switches that support 10 Gigabit Ethernet and are scheduled to ship in the spring at a starting price of $5,429.

Alcatel will introduce the OmniSwitch 6800 family of Gigabit Ethernet switches with 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks. Pricing starts at $4,495 for the switches, which are available now. A two-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module is due in February, starting at $4,995.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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