Gigamon adds chassis-based data access switch


An unnamed Canadian telecommunications company is the first customer of Gigamon LLC’s first chassis-based data access switch.

Like all Gigamon switches, the GigaVUE HD8 is used between a traditional data switch and tools such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), Web monitors, data recorders or VOIP analyzers.

But the HD8 has a backplane capable of more than 1 Terabit per second of throughput.

“We have over-built this box for the purpose of future-proofing the network,” Mike Valladao, (pictured), the company’s senior product manager, said in an interview.

“What we’ve done is take multiple boxes we’ve had in the past and consolidate them in one box.” That capability, added Jim Berkman, who heads the company’s marketing efforts, is appealing to a number of Gigamon’s traditional customers in the financial and government sectors.

Neither would name the Canadian customer who was the first sale. HD8s have also been sold to a U.S.-based retailer and an American bank.

“I was recently up in Canada and visited a [online] casino, a major telco and a major telephone company and all of them are concerned about the increasing amount of data coming through their networks,” Valladao added, which he said the HD8 is built to handle.
A Brockville, Ont.-based company that sells Gigamon products along with network monitoring appliances agrees. “The key interest in the HD8 is its high scalability,” said Steve Watt, president of Layer 8 Solutions. His company, which has offices in Toronto, Ottawa and St. John’s, Nfld., has sold Gigamon switches to the federal government, banks, cable companies and telcos. As networks move to 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps, the HD8 will be able to meet the demands of high speed data monitoring.
Another appeal of the HD8 is that its ability to offer so many ports a customer won’t need to daisy-chain many chassis together, he added.

The first of the company’s H-series, the HD8 is a 14U rack-mountable telco-grade chassis that can hold up to eight line cards. Initially, two cards are offered: the GigaPort X12G04, which offers twelve 10 Gigabit and four 1G ports; and the X04G44, which has four 10G and 44 1G ports.

If a full load of X12G04 cards are used, a customer could have a total of 96 10G ports and 32 1G ports. Eight X04G44 cards brings 352 1G and 32 10G ports.

An HD8 base chassis is priced at between US$90,000 and $100,000. The line cards run between US$40,000 and $60,000.
The chassis’ high availability and high density make it unique among makers of switch aggregation monitoring equipment, said Andre Kindness, enterprise networking analyst at Forrester Research. Competitors  include Anue Systems Inc. and VSS Monitoring.
What makes these kinds of switches, is their ability to direct traffic to appliances overseen by security, voice or application teams, he said, giving them insight into the data travelling over networks. In addition, the fact that the information is segregated adds to overall security, he said.

Silicon Valley, Calif.-based Gigamon calls its devices intelligent data access switches

“What we’re doing is acting as an intelligent traffic cop to switch traffic as quickly as possible and only send the correct data to the correct [network monitoring] tools” by filtering the traffic, Valladao said.

These tools usually use deep packet inspection, he said, so by ensuring the right data goes to the right device they can keep up with increased network speeds. This can extend the live of IDS and similar tools, the company argues.


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