Firm puts new switch line into GEAR

Heeding cries from the market as well as its own channel partners, NETGEAR Inc. has added management capabilities to a new line of switches.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company recently released the FSM726S Layer 2 managed switch designed to give small businesses similar functionality and features found in high-end managed switching solutions. The managed switch enables remote monitoring capabilities through NETGEAR’s Web-based graphical user interface (GUI) which uses standard management tools for fault isolation, error detection, capacity planning and traffic management.

The FSM726S’s hardware architecture offers 24 10/100Mbps ports; two 10/100/1000Mbps ports; two gigabit interface converter slots; and two stacking connectors to allow up to six units to be stacked together without losing gigabit ports and performance.

“Since day one we started with a proposition to serve the needs of the small offices and home market,” said Vivek Pathela, director of product management for NETGEAR. “(The FSM) brings management capabilities that are very robust but we have made it friendly for a non-sophisticated IT user to do it. Unlike other large vendors selling to the enterprise, what we have done with management is we looked at our customers and knew that they are not as sophisticated with their networks. If something goes wrong, they want to be able to immediately identify problems.”

Pathela continued, saying the FSM’s management capabilities are divided into two groupings: one designed for users seeking basic management functionalities and the second for more advanced users. These advanced features include support for simple network management protocol (SNMP), remote monitoring (RMON), virtual local area networks (VLANs) and QoS capabilities.

“The motivation and demand for this product is increasing primarily because in the small business segment there is tight capital spending on the overall IT investment,” Pathela noted. “Customers are really looking for a cost-effective viable alternative that really meets their needs as they try to grow their network. NETGEAR is becoming a more attractive option for them.”

And Gartner Group’s Rachna Ahlawat agreed. Ahlawat, a senior analyst with Gartner’s enterprise networking group in San Jose said third-tier vendors like NETGEAR are in a unique position to offer affordable solutions to small- and mid-sized businesses. She said that although high-end products from the likes of Cisco Systems or Nortel Networks come with additional features and functionality, they also come with a heftier price tag – one that smaller businesses simply cannot justify.

“NETGEAR is a very good player in the market,” Ahlawat said. “Many people are buying the lower-end equipment because they know that their (network) requirements would not be higher for the next couple of years. The idea is to buy the lower-end products and replace them when you need to.”

She added that today, the market for unmanaged solutions is practically non-existent, as managed solutions have become so affordable in recent years. However, Ahlawat added that many corporations and businesses aren’t buying, and until this changes vendors cannot expect to see high volumes of shipments.

The NETGEAR FSM726S is available now and pricing starts at US$850. For more information, visit the company online at