Flood of New Switches Ready to Take on Cisco


The good news for a company that is out to dominate an industry is that you can tell you've succeeded when all the other players out there start gunning for you. The bad news, though, is that now all the other players are gunning for you.

That's the situation Cisco Systems finds itself in as it seeks to control all things Ethernet in the data center. The company has made no secret that it wants to see 10 GbE become the fabric for network convergence, unified communications and all other means of getting digital information from one place to another. And judging by the way the rest of the networking community is reacting, it appears it is on the right track.

Take the switch industry, which saw a slew of new products and systems introduced this week, many of them charged with stealing Cisco's thunder in one way or another.

3Com, for example, came out with a new line of "flex-chassis" switches for its H3C portfolio which it hopes will be the launch pad to retake the North American market. The device offers up to 192 10 GbE ports or 640 1 GbE ports, plus a host of extras such as support for extensible application services, namely for security, wireless access and monitoring functions. It also sports open standards and low-power chipsets that reduce consumption by nearly a third.

Extreme Networks is also stepping up to the plate, launching a new module for its BlackDiamond 8800 switch that the company says can provide greater density and lower operating costs than the rest of the field. Each BlackDiamond 8900-Series module holds a 24-port 10 GbE card, a 96-port 1 GbE card and 128/80 Gb/slot fabric capability. The system can scale up to 582 10 GbE ports per rack, using either single or modular versions of the ExtremeXOS operating system, plus built-in automation through the system's Universal Port. It also provides for XML, CLI and SNMP interfaces with the company's EPICenter management system.

Juniper Networks, meanwhile, is taking dead aim at some of Cisco's premiere customers with the EX 8216, a half-rack version of the EX 8208 that doubles the number of modular slots to 16 and offers support for a wider range of cards, such as an 8-port 10 GbE design, a 48-port 10/100/1,000 GbE unit and a 46-port 1 GbE card. The system runs on the new Junos 9.5 release that features a module design so you can add applications and toolkits without taking down the entire OS.

And from Brocade, we're seeing the new ServerIron ADX, which the company bills as an application delivery platform with twice the port density of other systems, capable of delivering up to 70 Gbps of Layer 4 and 7 application throughput. The system comes in 1, 4 and 8 RU designs, providing up to 16 10 GbE ports and a high-density multicore/multichip application processing plane supporting improved performance and core-based virtualization. It also features the company's Content Switching framework that governs rules, policies and configuration details to enable multivendor application switching and content transformation.

If anything, these new releases are a sign of a healthy switch economy. Cisco may be the top data center network provider, but there are still plenty of alternatives out there for enterprises looking to fulfill specific needs.