Blade Network Technologies and Cisco this week piled into HP's latest blade server announcement, as the switch vendors each introduced Gigabit Ethernet switch modules for HP's BladeSystem c-Class.

Blade Network Technologies - a spin-off from Nortel's blade server switch business - is offering the HP GbE2c Ethernet Blade Switch.

Cisco's offering is the Catalyst Blade Switch 3020. Both products add internal network connectivity, security and management features to HP's BladeSystem c-Class, announced Wednesday.

Cisco's Catalyst Blade Switch 3020 can provide Gigabit Ethernet connections for up to 16 server blades in an HP BladeSystem c-Class, connecting to the blades via the blade server chassis' backplane.

The Cisco module also has eight Layer 2 external Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting the chassis to a LAN or data centre network. All eight external ports are 10/100/1000Base-T; four fibre-based SFP module slots are also included, which can be activated (requiring four copper-based ports to be deactivated). The switch includes an IOS software image for management and configuration.

The Blade Network Technologies switch - the HP GbE2c - provides 16 internal Gigabit Ethernet connections on a 48Gbps fabric, with five external Gigabit Ethernet ports for backbone uplinks. All ports are copper-based RJ-45 connections.

The switch can be managed via Web-based and command-line interfaces. The Layer 2 switch can be upgraded with a software image to add Layer 3 routing capabilities. The module also provides RADIUS authentication features.

The Cisco Catalyst Blade Switch 3020 is available now for US$4,400. The Blade Network Technologies switch costs $1,500 and will be available in July.