Extreme, Cisco and Nortel launch switches

The networking vendors are emphasizing lower costs

Three major networking vendors are announcing switching products that emphasize lower costs.

Today, Extreme Networks Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., will announce and start shipping 24- and 48-port Summit 200 10/100 Ethernet switches.

The Summit 200 switches operate at Layer 3 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, offering more intelligence for network security and performance, said John Erlandson, director of hardware product management at Extreme Networks.

Both are rack unit designs and, at $1,850 for the 24-port model and $3,350 for the 48-port model, are "less expensive than many Layer 2 switches" with less intelligence, Erlandson said. Layer 2 is the data link layer in the seven-layer OSI model.

Terrell Tucker, director of information and technology services at Panama-Buena Vista Union School District in Bakersfield, Calif., has been testing 48-port Summit 200 switches for WAN connectivity between 22 LANs. The test is part of a rollout of Extreme products throughout the district, which has 2,500 desktops, about 800 employees and 14,000 students, Tucker said.

Extreme was less expensive than other major vendors, and the decision to use the Summit 200 "is really nice, given the flexibility" of 48 ports and Layer 3 intelligence, Tucker said. If the wireless antennas between the schools and the central office fail to generate a signal, they can be easily moved to another Summit 200 switch, because the products have the routing intelligence to move the data from the LAN to the wireless link, he said.

Erlandson said the Summit 200 represents "the end of the Layer 2 switch" because of its Layer 3 intelligence and low cost.

Today's Extreme Networks announcement follows announcements last week by Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd.

Cisco launched several LAN switching products that focus on making advanced networking affordable to small and medium-size businesses and educational institutions, said Steven Shalita, senior manager of worldwide product marketing.

The Cisco products include the Catalyst 4500 Series Supervisor Engine II-Plus, a control module that fits into the Catalyst 4500 switch series chassis. Designed for smaller networks, it provides quality of service and security for wireless connections and IP telephony, according to Cisco. It's available now for $8,495.

Cisco also introduced the Catalyst 4500 48-port 10/100/1000 module, which is designed to lower the cost of Gigabit Ethernet while providing Power Over Ethernet. It is available now for $5,495.

Another new Cisco product, the Catalyst 2970 Series 24-port fixed configuration switch, is designed to offer Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. It's priced at $4,995.

Also last week, Brampton, Ontario-based Nortel announced two new BayStack 5000 switches and the Passport 8300 Ethernet switch. The BayStack 5000 switches are designed to offer greater intelligence and performance for distributed applications and the ability to bring Gigabit Ethernet to desktops. The new BayStack switches feature improved stacking that will enable them to run 32 times faster than preceding models, Nortel officials said.

The Passport 8300 Ethernet Switch is a modular Layer 3 routing switch with Gigabit Ethernet capability and Power Over Ethernet for use in wiring closets.

Pricing for the Passport 8300 starts at $85,000 for a 10-slot chassis. The new BayStack 5510, with 48 ports, starts at $6,995; the 24-port 5510 starts at $4,995.

The new Nortel products are designed to support what Nortel calls an "adaptive campus LAN" that puts more intelligent switching at the network edge and, as a company grows, is able handle new applications such as instant messaging, document sharing and a range of XML-based applications.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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