Unified Switches: Get Ready

5:45 PM -- My, how things change -- but, in the case of wireless switches, at least, rather predictably. Remember the wireless switch? Truly a fabulous idea, along with the thin AP. And we saw quite a number of these over the past four years, in almost every shape and size, from Layer 2 to Layer 3 to appliances that really weren’t switches at all. One might think that the evolutionary conclusion to the wireless switch would be nigh, as we should be able to define quite precisely just what a wireless switch is. And one would be partially right.

Because the wireless LAN switch as we know it has, in fact, reached its logical conclusion. It’s not, of course, going away, although it’s not going to remain in its present form much longer. When you think about it, there’s very little difference between a wireless switch and a wired switch -- it’s really just a matter of software, and a lot of that software, primarily related to the management console, doesn’t need to run on the switch at all. I estimate that there’s about a 10 percent difference between wired and wireless switches in terms of overall functionality, and that’s mostly related to such wireless LAN specifics as Layer 2 security and other elements required by 802.11 and WiFi.

But that point above about commonality is key. Think, then, about unifying wired and wireless switches into a single, new class of switch – what we’re now calling the unified switch. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has been talking these up via its 3750G family, and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) has just announced a unified switch aimed squarely at the small/medium business space -- well away from Cisco’s products, but a dandy opportunity regardless. 3Com’s products are inexpensive and appear quite robust in terms of functionality. I really like the everything-in-one-box approach for smaller enterprises, and I think this product will do really, really well once the channel becomes familiar with the numerous advantages of the unified approach.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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wirelessfreak 12/5/2012 | 3:38:56 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready So, tell us, Craig or someone at Cisco, how you can call it a unified switch when it has two console ports and two user interfaces? Duct tape replaced by sheet metal but you gotta call it for what it is. This is no more unified than putting two different devices in the same rack.
lrmobile_got_light 12/5/2012 | 3:38:55 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready What? What two console ports? I haven't seen the cisco and 3com UA switches yet. The ones that will be bought will be a single switching chip-based boards with one console. The future of UA, to start with, will be from SMB, but I guess as Wifi phones, PDAs etc play more role, it will be the Big enterprise and campus environs that will push the UA Switching further. Funny thing is that right now, most UA boxes are still FE ports. I guess as these test babies are accepted, big guys will endorse the standards and we all can see a per-port pricing of these switches.

Got Light?

PS: Why can't I access Unstrung using light reading's user/password credentials?
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:38:52 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready RE: Why can't I access Unstrung using light reading's user/password credentials?

Different sign-ins.

-- DJ
Howardru01581 12/5/2012 | 3:38:42 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready The 3Com Unified Switch solution provides a single GUI web management interface for Layer 2 Managed switching parameters, full 802.3af PoE power on alll 24 ports, wireless controller for up to 24 APs etc.

It's the giant gorilla's solution that has wrapped sheet metal around a switch mother board and wirelesss controller mother board, attached together via an internal GbE port but still retain two IP addresses, two CLIs, two OS' images...shall I continue?
wirelessfreak 12/5/2012 | 3:38:36 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready So, how is the new 3Com "unified" switch different from what folks like Aruba have offered from the very beginning? L2/L3 ethernet switch with PoE and support for various numbers of APs, firewall, etc.

Come to think of it, Aruba hasn't mentioned wired features or wired security lately. Just talking about WLAN being boring and a commodity.

Where are these unified switches being deployed? SME? Wiring closets of large enterprises and replacing Cisco and other edge switches?

Do you actually need 24 directly connected APs on a single switch? I would imagine the area covered by that many APs far exceeds the 100m limitation of PoE.

This is an interesting turn for the industry but not sure if it is real or just a chance for folks to make some noise and say they are different.
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:38:34 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready Not really answering any of your questions, but answering something. Here is something that I was looking at this evening.


States are bigger.
wirelessfreak 12/5/2012 | 3:38:34 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready Yes!

The interesting question is what happens when wireless is the normal method of enterprise, campus, and community connectivity? But mobility is more than just 802.11abgn with the performance, reliability, scalability and manageability of the these networks become even more important, more complex and far more interesting than that of wired networks.

Is this the next inflection point in networking? Is this where we see the next big shift like we saw from IBM to Cisco? Or is it just another opportunity for the incumbents to sell upgrades, higher capacity switches and new products in the edge and core?

- freaking out
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:38:34 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready Checking in here and there with this board and unstrung in general. This some old stuff, just recycled. Catch up and really start looking at sensory networks and industrial wireless appplications. There are some real wars and thought conflicts that are going on here. Usual cast of anal, eccentric, compulsive personalities there, but some sh*&* is happening.


meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:38:33 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready
Is this the next inflection point in networking?

How do I talk to you wirelessfreak?

meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:38:33 AM
re: Unified Switches: Get Ready Stakes, sorry....
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