Extreme seeks to simplify switch management

Extreme Networks Inc. this week at SuperComm 2002 will announce software for simplifying the configuration and management of large numbers of its Gigabit Ethernet switches.

Extreme’s Infrastructure Service Management (ISM) Provision could be used to configure quality-of-service (QoS) policies, update operating system software and control bandwidth on a per-port level across hundreds of Extreme switches in a multisite enterprise network using Ethernet over long-distance fibre or in a metropolitan-area service provider’s network.

The offering, which runs on Solaris or Windows servers and is accessible by a Java-based or Web client, is available in two models – of the Network Infrastructure Manager (NIM) and IP Services Manager (IPSM).

Extreme’s EPICenter and ServiceWatch management tools are installed at Scottsdale Insurance, in Scottsdale, Ariz., which runs a network of 26 Extreme BlackDiamond switches in multiple locations. But the insurance firm, which is a subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., may look into the new ISM Provision products as its network expands.

“Network management is a huge deal for us,” says Tony Crognale, network technician at Scottsdale. “There are only two guys running the show here, and its really important for us to be able to have automated management tools.”

Crognale says he might have to look at more robust management tools as his firm begins to take on some service provider-like roles. Using IPSM to control how much bandwidth extranet partners can use is one possibility, he adds.

‘I would absolutely look into [IPSM],” Crognale says. “We’ll be deploying Web services out there to 300 of our general agents who will be coming directly into our systems. It would be nice to control how much of our bandwidth they use when there on our network.”

NIM can be used to schedule jobs for updating software and configuration settings across a wide array of Extreme boxes. The software lets users back up configuration job settings and restore systemwide switch configurations to earlier settings if errors are made. It also can be used to assign Layer 2 or 3 QoS priorities to certain kinds of traffic, and to check new QoS and network policy settings for conflicts with existing rules and settings on switches. The software also can be used to manage inventory of Extreme equipment.

The IPSM module is targeted more toward carriers, and metropolitan Ethernet service providers could use it to allocate bandwidth to customers based on individual ports or virtual LAN (VLAN) groups. IPSM taps into the rate-limiting features on Extreme switches to let companies control how fast a particular port or VLAN transmits data – from 256Kbps to 100Mbps or 1Gbps, depending on the port speed.

Extreme says both modules can save users time by letting them make multiple configuration changes through a graphical user interface on the application and distribute those changes to hundreds of Extreme switches.

The company says the software offers an improvement over existing switch configuration methods for software updates, VLAN and port speed configuration and QoS settings, which include connecting to switches on an individual basis via Telnet or a serial port connection and using a command line interface.

The ISM Provision software will be available this month. Pricing will be US$14,000 for the NIM module and US$30,000 for the IPSM module.

Extreme can be reached at http://www.extremenetworks.com.