Enterasys Networks will release a new line of blades for its Matrix N-Series enterprise core switches this week; with improved QoS, high-density Gigabit and 10G Ethernet.
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The Diamond-Series Distributed Forwarding Engines (DFE) let customers build LANs with specific levels of QoS - with traffic classifications for specific applications, such as VoIP or video. The options for security integration and 10G connectivity also could help users roll out advanced LAN features, such as network access control.
The four blades include:

  • 7GR4270-12 - a 12-port module with advanced QoS features, targeted at the LAN aggregation or backbone layers.
  • 7GR4280-19 - an 18-port module with an expansion slot for 10G Ethernet expansion ports, or an IPS/IDS or NAC modules.
  • 7GR4202-30 - a blade with 30 10/100/1000Mbps ports, targeted at high-density server connections in data centers.
  • 7KR4290-02 - a dual-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module, for connecting LAN core switches, or for connecting aggregation or data center layers to core switches.

These new LAN core/data center line cards complement power-over-Ethernet and 802.1X security features in Enterasys' N-Series Gold DFEs (for LAN edge switching), and the high-density Gigabit and 10G features in the Platinum series (for distribution layer and server aggregation).

Toronto Star Newspapers, in Toronto, is upgrading four Enterasys SSR routers in its LAN core with two Matrix N-Series switches. Two more N-Series boxes are going on the company's data center to connect to various server farms, says Rockie Lamb, technical consultant at the Toronto Star.

"We were seeing traffic peaks pushing the bandwidth limitations [of the SSRs], so we decided it was time to bring in 10G Ethernet," Lamb says.

The QoS functions in the Diamond-Series blades - on the 12-port 7GR4270-12 module in particular - support as many as 16 classes of traffic on a single port. Lamb says he will use this capability to carve out tunnels of dedicated LAN bandwidth for specific applications, such as VoIP, large image file traffic associated with newspaper production and IP video.

The Diamond-Series DFEs and the Matrix N-Series compete with enterprise core chassis and modules, such as 3Com's Switch 7700, Cisco's Catalyst 6500, Force10's E1200, Foundry's BigIron RX and Nortel ESR 8600. The N-Series is on the lower end of this enterprise core class of switches. (The vendor's own Matrix X-Series chassis have a backplane, and Gigabit and 10G Ethernet capacity).

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The two-port 10G Ethernet Diamond modules lags in port count, compared with four- eight- and 12-port 10G offers from such competitors as Cisco, Foundry and Force10. However, Enterasys says it will introduce a four-port 10G blade by the third quarter of this year, and eight-port and 12-port 10G modules by early 2008, Enterasys says.

All of the Diamond-Series blades support Enterasys' policy-based switching technology, which let the modules identify traffic flows from various types of preconfigured user profiles, or profiles for devices, such as servers and other networked machines. The switches can control permit, deny or offer restricted access to users and other traffic flows based on network profiles providing built-in network access control and bandwidth management, the company says.

All four Diamond-Series DFEs are available with pricing in the US set at US$19,000 for the 12-port 7GR4270-12; $30,000 for the 18-port 7GR4280-19; $17,000 for the 30-port 7GR4202-30; and $24,000 for the dual-port 10G 7KR4290-02.