HP, Cisco pump up 10-gigabit LAN gear

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Cisco Systems Inc. recently released enterprise LAN gear targeted at corporations looking to roll out infrastructure upgrades such as 10G Ethernet backbones and IP telephony.

The introduction of 10 gigabit HP gear also could be seen as a sign that the company is interested in competing with high-end switching companies such as Cisco, Extreme Networks Inc., Foundry Networks Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp., which already have 10G Ethernet products on the market.

HP introduced seven modules for its Procurve Routing Switch 9300m, including an array of 10/100Mbps and gigabit Ethernet options over copper and fibre, as well as a new single-port 10G Ethernet blade.

HP’s new modules include an eight-port and 16-port Mini-gigabit Interface Converter blades, and a 16-port module with copper-based Fast Ethernet/gigabit Ethernet ports. Also released was a 48-port blade for connecting end users with RJ-45 or telephone company connections, which let ports be tied directly to a patch panel. The new blades fit into 9300m chassis, which come with either four, eight or 15 slots.

A single-port 10G Ethernet blade can be used for connecting two 9300m series switches over a high-speed link, at distances up to 6.2 miles. Up to four 10G ports can be trunked together or provide a fault-tolerant, high-speed pipe between switches, HP says.

HP’s 10G Ethernet modules are being used at Manchester Community College in Connecticut, where 10G Ethernet is used to connect two backbone 9300m switches together. The school plans to use 10G Ethernet to connect buildings throughout its campus in the future, says Thomas White-Hassler, dean of information resources and technology at the school.

Meanwhile, Cisco released what it’s calling a “compact” version of the Catalyst 6500, which comes with three slots. The chassis is aimed at wiring closet deployments in companies that want to standardize on the Catalyst 6500 family in the LAN core, aggregation and wiring closet levels. Cisco now has versions of the switch with three, six, nine and 16 slots. Cisco says businesses that standardize on one switch line across the entire LAN can save money by not having to purchase spare components for disparate devices.

Cisco also added a 48-port 10/100 line card for the Catalyst 6500 line that is based on the pending 802.3af standard for delivering power over Ethernet connections. Cisco previously offered a proprietary version of power over Ethernet, which observers say was not in line with the standard. A daughtercard added to the module will let power be delivered over all 48 10/100 ports to any 802.3af-compliant device. A telco connection version of the blade is also available.

The HP and Cisco 10 gigabit announcements and standard-compliant in-line power support, respectively, could be seen as attempts to elevate each company’s infrastructure products in the minds of enterprise customers, as commodity vendors of LAN gear, such as Dell, Netgear and others, move into the enterprise market.

All of HP’s new switch modules are available now. The Cisco Catalyst 6503 chassis is available now for US$3,000, and the 48-port 10/100 blade is available for US$6,000. The in-line power daughtercard for the module is available now for US$1,500.