Apcon offers faster matrix switches

Apcon has overhauled its IntellaPatch matrix switches, allowing 10G Ethernet speed, increasing density and adding failover capability.

Maxtrix switches, sometimes called physical layer switches, act like a patch panel in a home stereo or theatre system by allowing the sharing of devices. For enterprises, they allow packet analyzers, probes, intrusion detection devices and other security hardware to be shared across a network and run remotely.

“Very often large data centres are lights out and not staffed,” said Mark Holmes, director of sales for Wilsonville, Oregon-based Apcon. A product like ours allows them to move monitoring and security appliances to where they need without having to be present.”

The switches are also popular in the labs of equipment makers, for they allow the creation of large networks through which new gear can be tested.

The new 3000 series of IntellaPatch matrix switches are physically smaller than their 2000 series predecessors. However, density has been increased. A 1U rack now holds 36 ports, meaning 144 ports can be squeezed into a 4U space. A 2000-series system had to be 9U high to get the same number of ports.

The change allows organizations to save space and energy, Holmes said. More importantly, the 3000 series supports the 10 gigabit SFP+ optical standard, allowing 10Gb Ethernet and 8.5Gb Fibre Channel data speeds.

With the inclusion in the 3000 series of redundant controllers, the new models now can offer customers high availability. This capability is lacking in the 2000 series, Holmes said, which is why some enterprise customers didn’t want to put those switches in-line. Apcon hopes that attitude will change with the new models.

Finally, the management software in the new series includes advanced diagnositics to report on the health of connected systems.

Holmes called the new series “a huge step.” Because features can be added later the companies sees it as a “platform for the future.”

The IntellaPatch 3000 series is composed of a chassis plus line cards. The cards, copper Ethernet, optical 1GbE and 10GbE, range in price from US$11,000 to $45,000. There are two chassis: The US$40,000 standard chassis, for labs, and a $50,000 enterprise version for organizations.

While both come with SSL/SSH encryption and redundant power supplies, they ship with slightly different management software. The enterprise version has Apcon’s web-based Webx interface, Monitor, TACACS+ and RADIUS directory authentication, and SNMPv3 with gets/sets/traps. However, enterprise customers will have to wait a few weeks to get their hands on their version. While the standard version was released earlier this month, the enterprise version won’t be coming out until later this year.

Other makers of matrix switches include Net Optics Inc. and Datacom Systems.

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