Alcatelhas launched a smaller version of its OmniSwitch 9000 series chassis, aimed at businesses that do not want to deploy more expensive core switches in the middle tier of a network.

The smallest in the 9000 series, Alcatel's OmniSwitch 9600 is meant to provide aggregation-layer switching in a three-tier enterprise LAN configuration (LAN edge or wiring closet, aggregation layer, and core or backbone) the company says. The device supports such features as IPv6, 802.1x, and virtual LAN-based traffic quarantine for high availability and security. The box is targeted at enterprises that want a chassis-based switch in the aggregation layer, but don't want to use the larger, more expensive 9700 or 9800 switches.

The OmniSwitch 9600 joins the eight-slot 9700 and 16-slot 9800 boxes, and uses the same network service and management modules as other 9000 series switches. The 9600 can support as many as four network-service line cards and a single (nonredundant) management module. Various network-service line cards available for the chassis include 24-port 10/100/1000Mbit/s modules, Power over Internet-capable blades and as many as six 10G ports on a single module.

The switch also can use Alcatel's network access control (NAC) Access Guardian technology. This is based on Alcatel's OmniVista 2770 Quarantine Manager an appliance that sits on a LAN and authenticates all end-point devices -- PCs, wireless LAN clients, printers or other network-attached nodes.

The device, which works with Microsoft's similar Network Access Protection (NAP) technology, verifies the identify of connecting devices, scans for known virus software and quarantines devices on a secure VLAN segment for remediation. That could include virus removal, software update or other steps to ensure the network client is safe.

Switches that compete with the OmniSwitch 9600 include Cisco's Catalyst 4000 series, Force10's E300, HP's ProCurve 5300 series and 3Com's Switch 4000 series.