Extreme launches Ethernet-equipped edge switch

Extreme Networks Inc. announced the Summit 400-48 switch for wiring closets at the network edge last week, the first in its class to provide two 10 gigabit Ethernet uplinks to a network core.

Taking 10 gigabit Ethernet data from the core, the new switch has 48 ports for up to 1Gbps. transmission per port to desktops and servers, said Varun Nagaraj, vice-president of product management at Extreme in Santa Clara, Calif.

Installing Summit 400-48s will help companies “eliminate upgrade cycles” as IT managers push more speed to desktops, he said.

The number of companies that need such speed is limited today but growing among power users and shops that want to connect servers in server farms, said Abner Germanow, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass. He confirmed that Extreme is the first vendor with such an edge switch with two 10 gigabit Ethernet ports to the core.

Daniel Morreale, CIO at North Bronx Health Care Network in New York, said he plans to install as many as 20 Summit 400-48s in the next five months after testing two of them for two weeks — one with the IT department and another to support a patient care unit. Both are still connected with a fiber-optic 10 gigabit Ethernet link to Extreme Black Diamond core switches, he said. He hasn’t encountered any problems with the switches, which are part of a gigabit Ethernet network that serves 6,000 users with 4,500 PCs and medical devices.

“They’re working wonderfully, being used for intense bandwidth needs such as obstetrics and cardiac imaging,” Morreale said. “It has been transparent.” Bronx Health Care Network has two hospitals with a total of 900 beds in New York.

Morreale said he started installing nearly 150 Extreme switches and routers of all sizes last September, replacing seven-year-old gear from Cisco Systems Inc. The changeover came after the health center decided it wanted a network upgrade to support a 10 gigabit Ethernet core.

“I started doing pricing on the upgrade, and it came down to Cisco and Extreme, but Extreme was significantly lower in cost,” he said.

For all 150 Extreme boxes, there has been only a one per cent failure rate of components, he said.

Another successful test has been under way for more than two weeks at the School of Information Sciences research group at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland, said Mark Steggert, systems manager at the university.

Steggert said Extreme’s switch and its other models have been easier to configure than Cisco products and have been highly reliable. The Summit 400-48 is installed in a research network where at times entire file systems are transferred, he said.

“Our research users have never encountered a network fast enough for them,” he said, adding that the Summit 400-48 helps meet those demands at a cost-effective price. He hopes to purchase some of the switches but gave no details on when that might happen.

In addition to Cisco, Extreme competes most directly with Foundry Networks Inc. in San Jose, Enterasys Networks Inc. in Andover, Mass., and Nortel Networks LLC, Germanow said.

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