Interop Preview: The Switch Is On

Interop doesn't start until next week, and Ethernet Expo: Europe 2009 is still a few days away, but the screaming starts now, as three of the more recognizable names in Ethernet are popping up with big-deal announcements today.

Interop isn't a service-provider show, but some of what's coming out has some relevance to the carrier market, especially considering some carriers might want to offer cloud networking as a service. Read on:

3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) is back, and talking some smack against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Example: "We don't have the problem of legacy code and 15 years of baggage," says Saar Gillai, 3Com's senior vice president of products. Ouch!

3Com took full ownership of H3C Technologies Co. Ltd. , formerly a joint venture between 3Com and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , in 2006. The joint venture never went away, but 3Com is proclaiming a rebirth of sorts for H3C and is pushing to gather more customers from outside of China. (See 3Com Takes H3C.)

In China, where Huawei held a home-court advantage, 3Com managed to match Cisco's dominance -- the only part of the world where that's happened, Gillai says. In its five years of existence, H3C has grown to $609 million in annual revenues.

Cisco isn't an easy foe, as 3Com discovered the last time it tried to sell switches. But 3Com has the recession on its side, Gillai says. "We've talked to people who never dreamed of not using a certain vendor, and now they want to talk to us and see if they can get better value for the money." (And yes, he grants, "a certain vendor" means Cisco.)

One question on many people's minds is going to be the reputation of the former H3C's output, especially considering Huawei contributed all the engineering (3Com contributed mostly money and patents). Fairly or not, Huawei is still remembered in some circles for several questionable incidents, including the time an employee was caught photographing competitors' equipment at Supercomm in 2004. Prior to that, Cisco sued Huawei in 2003 for allegedly copying software, though Huawei blamed rogue employees, and Cisco dropped the suit the following year. (See Huawei in Spying Flap, Cisco/Huawei Brawl Begins, and Cisco Drops Huawei Suit.)

"The same thing happened with Honda and Toyota. They copied certain things, but then you ended up with Lexus," Gillai says.

3Com does have new products to go along with its new H3C bravado. The S12500 is a data center aggregation and core switch based on a 6.6-Tbit/s fabric. By comparison, Cisco's Nexus 7000 has a 3.68-Tbit/s fabric, although Cisco claims it will expand that to 15 Tbit/s eventually. (See Cisco's Nexus Targets Data Center's Future.)

3Com is also introducing the S5800 line of switches, which can be stacked to form one virtual switching fabric. Both new boxes are due to ship in July.

On the software side, this month 3Com will start shipping the H3C Intelligent Management Center (IMC), a management tool that views all vendors' products in the network. "This is the product that pulls us into Cisco accounts," Gillai says. "This is where we can crush them," he adds in all sincerity.

New products from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) include: The TurboIron 24X, a new top-of-rack switch for the data center; and the FastIron CX line of wiring-closet switches. The product of most probable interest to service providers, though, is the ServerIron ADX family of Layers 4-through-7 switches. (See Brocade Intros ADX & More.)

They're the first IP products to come from Brocade since the acquisition of Foundry Networks last year. (See Brocade Takes Aim at Cisco (& Juniper) and Brocade/Foundry Readies Ethernet Invasion.)

The ADX ups the Layers 4-through-7 throughput of the ServerIron product line to 70 Gbit/s while providing a 320-Gbit/s switching fabric and support for up to 16 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports. All that processing goes toward running tasks such as denial-of-service detection without affecting application performance, Brocade says.

The TurboIron 24X packs 24 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports into a box one rack-unit high. Brocade claims the box can handle 488 Gbit/s of traffic at line rate.

All of Brocade's new products are set to begin shipping after June.

Force10 Networks Inc. , meanwhile, is adding a 90-port Gigabit Ethernet card to its ExaScale E600, announced in March. (See Force10 Thinks 'Exa'.)

That's 90 ports of copper connectivity. Physically, the card has 15 sockets, each of which can support six copper Ethernet lines.

The ExaScale is built to carry 100 Gbit/s per slot, so the 90-port card isn't oversubscribing the slot, says vice president of marketing Steve Garrison. Force10 does plan to produce oversubscribed cards in the future, which Garrison says will push the ExaScale beyond the 512 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports Cisco is claiming for the Nexus 7000.

The 90-port card, shipping now, is priced at $60,000, and the E600 chassis itself is $63,500.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo: Europe 2009, a conference and exposition showcasing the latest trends in the Carrier Ethernet market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. To be staged in London, May 13 & 14, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

nealroche 12/5/2012 | 4:05:09 PM
re: Interop Preview: The Switch Is On

You can see the Force 10 ExaScale in action at Interop Las Vegas.

Ixia will hold the world’s largest public demonstration of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) traffic switching at Booth 1831.

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