Wiznet looks for Extreme bandwidth and manageability

Bandwidth is an important concern for Canadian ISP Wiznet Inc., which explains the company’s current process of standardizing on Extreme Networks’ switching technology.

“Most of the reasons to go with Extreme are technical,” said Jeff Mason, president of Wiznet. “Basically, it was the speed and capacity of their switches along with some of the software algorithms they’re developing for it – these were things we were very interested in.”

The multimillion dollar agreement includes the purchase of Extreme’s BlackDiamond chassis and Summit switches that will be deployed into hundreds of buildings in the Greater Toronto Area and other cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa, allowing companies the benefits of various broadband applications and technologies such as video conferencing and Voice over IP. Wiznet was also looking for technology that would help leverage the companies Application Service Provider plans.

“We’re in the business of moving high-speed data – currently everything is at the Megabit level for WAN – and we believe the next generation…is going to take customers into the gigabit Ethernet level. These Extreme boxes are capable of handling data at those speeds,” said Mason, citing the importance and difficulty of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as one of the keys to their decision.

“It’s important for us to have some consistency in our network, because some of the things like VPNs are very difficult to do if you don’t have a common platform.”

According to Tony Lee, director of product marketing and alliances for Extreme Networks, what Extreme has done is, “pull together a range of network equipment that would fit into the entire infrastructure from the desktop to the server farms to the core of the network that would have a consistent architecture delivering wire-speed IP routing, delivering wire-speed switching (and) also Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities.”

The BlackDiamond6808 switch delivers wire-speed, IP and IPX routing at more than 96 million packets per second and switching at Layer 2, which is essential for multi-protocol enterprise applications, said Lee. To enhance performance and availability, the ExtremeWare software suite adds advanced features, including server load balancing, Web cache redirection, IETF DiffServ and policy-based QoS, he added.

Although the price point for the technology convinced Wiznet to go with Extreme, Wiznet’s chief technology officer Jonathan Richards cited a few problems:

“One of the key things that we’re looking at and still haven’t solved is some of the throttling – to achieve bandwidth limitations on the boxes we actually have to use twice as many ports because these things generally rate-limit on the egress port.” He was concerned, but said that Extreme is looking into the issue.

According to Lee, the Extreme solution would lower enterprises’ total cost of ownership with a complete and manageable network platform.

“What we have is a network management platform. ExtremeWare is our software umbrella that covers everything. If you have a consistent management platform that allows you to manage the entire network and set policies, it makes it a lot easier for the customer to deploy policies, configure the system or monitor the system…If you’re updating your system, you can apply what you learn today to every other box,” he said.

Steven Flowers, Extreme’s country manager for Canada said, “One of the big differentiations between us and the Nortels and Ciscos of the world is that we’re focused on one area and that’s [gigabit Ethernet] and fast switching – that’s all we do. I feel we have the best-of-breed product and we have the inherent simplicity in our product. We tend to be really successful with organizations that are making their decisions based on what’s the best technology, as opposed to who’s got the best commercials on TV.”

Wiznet’s services range from 1Mbps to 10Mbps and are based on a per customer basis. Expected rollout times vary from two weeks, if there is not internal vertical fibre, to one day to provision if the building is already lit.

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