Cabletron has finally arrived with its home-grown ATM gear. Ironically, it's done so when many people are questioning where the technology fits into today's corporate networks. In Australia, Cabletron has for a number of years partnered with Fore Systems to win a number of high-profile ATM accounts, including BHP. Indeed, for a long time the two vendors were rumoured to be merging.
With the release of these latest products, however, Cabletron looks as though it is continuing its long-standing tradition of going alone. However, some observers were left wondering why, if Cabletron had survived so long without its own ATM products, it should bother now.
One analyst said ATM's complexity and cost put users off so much that a competing technology had an opportunity to move in.
"Gigabit Ethernet took away the need to move to ATM for speed," said Maribel Lopez, an analyst at US consultancy Forrester Research. "It did that by being a less expensive alternative that chews up less bandwidth with overhead."
For example, the Cabletron ATM switch costs about the same per 155Mbps port as ports on some Gigabit Ethernet switches that provide more than six times additional bandwidth.
Cabletron's new SmartSwitch 6500 ATM switch can be used in data centres, in campus backbone networks and at the edge of wide area networks. The ATM announcements also included the SmartSwitch 2500 workgroup/wiring closet ATM switch, the 9500 for large enterprises featuring OC-48 capacity as well as ATM modules for the SmartSwitch 2000, 6000 and 9000 series. All products will be available in the "third quarter" of this year and Australian pricing has not yet been finalised.