Windows NT switches to hit the big time

Windows NT switches to hit the big time

The planned acquisition of Berkeley Networks by Fore Systems, announced last week, could give the start-up company's innovative Windows NT switch technology more of a foothold in large enterprises.

Berkeley's Gigabit Ethernet routing switch features an NT engine, which runs on an Intel processor, for directing, classifying, and securing traffic.

It is designed to integrate with third-party extensions, and a Check Point firewall extension is already available.

The acquisition of privately held Berkeley, for approximately $US250 million, will bring the company under the umbrella of a major ATM equipment supplier to large enterprises.

Fore officials said the company will extend Berkeley's technology across its product line to create a single policy-based network offering.

Analysts said Fore may be an ideal vendor to bring Berkeley's concept to the market.

"Berkeley has managed to do some really interesting things by being tied to NT," said Melinda LeBaron, an analyst at the Gartner Group in Stamford, Connecticut.

"With NT invading not only enterprises but also Web server farms, it could be a real advantage, especially with both companies so tightly connected to Microsoft."

Range of capabilities

Officials at Fore and Berkeley said last week that they will extend Berkeley's "application-aware" features across Fore's ATM switches. The strategy will allow for the integration of a wide range of capabilities for directory-enabled networking, policy-based network management, and firewall switching, according to officials.

Fore's strategy has focused on providing an intelligent traffic-control layer that is independent of the underlying transport technology.

Fore's vice president of strategic marketing, Ron McKenzie, said the company will continue to co-develop desktop and workgroup products with Intel, continuing a relationship that was announced in May.

Locally, Charles Spooner, Fore's general manager for Australia and New Zealand, admitted the acquisition would do little for the company's business in Australia.

"There were a lot of ex-Fore engineers at Berkeley and it brings them back home and strengthens our position long-term, but to be brutally honest it will have little short-term effect," he said.

Fore is still in the process of adding integration partners. It has already signed on three partners and hopes to add three more soon. Spooner was not yet at liberty to announce who those partners were.

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