Extreme Networks has tapped into the growing demand for Gigabit Ethernet within data centres with new range of switches. The company has released modules for its BlackDiamond range that, it claimed, would offer greater scalability and port density at a cost far lower than its competitors.

The BlackDiamond 8900-series switches offer up to 582 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports in a single rack. The company is looking to address the growing use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in data centres brought on by iincreasing use of blade servers and the onset of virtualisation.

According to Paul Hooper, Extreme's vice president for the volume products group, Extreme has had to keep up without growing demand by increasing the performance of its switch. "We're offering a greater port density than the rest of the market," he said.

Like many of its competitors, Extreme has also had the uncomfortable experience of Cisco pushing for a stronger presence in the data centre, "Cisco's approach is to do everything; we believe in open standards and working with other vendors within the data centre, not in providing a ‘god box'," said Hooper. "And we're certainly much cheaper than they are."

The switches, which like Extreme offerings use the ExtremeOS operating system, also offer an open API for data centre managers to configure their own management tools. "We're increasingly seeing people prefer to do this themselves rather than rely on something like HP OpenView," said Hooper. "So we're providing them with an interface to integrate with XML or SOAP."

The company has also introduced the capacity to operate in hibernation mode to save on power. "It's not something that we expect to see that many people using," admitted Hooper, "but there are going to be data centres where not everything's going to be operating at all hours and there could be a considerable power saving."