Woven Systems looks to trump 10G Ethernet switches

Woven Systems looks to trump 10G Ethernet switches

New 144-port switch said to provide the highest port density and capacity in the industry

Woven says this model can be used to create an Ethernet fabric with as many as 4,000 10G Ethernet ports. Switches in the fabric auto-discover each other when plugged in. A Woven Dashboard network management tool can be used to partition sections of the fabric for certain types of dedicated traffic, such as IP storage traffic, application traffic or other flow types. The Dashboard also provides visual health-checking graphs to show latency and congestion areas in the fabric, and at certain chassis and ports in the configuration.

Woven is introducing the EFX 1000 with all-copper 10G Ethernet ports, based on the 10GBase-CX4 standard. These ports use Infiniband-style copper cabling, targeting short (less than 100 feet) switch-to-switch or switch-to-server links in the data centre. Initial pricing will be around $US1,500 per 10G Ethernet port. The vendor plans to announce fibre-based port modules later this year. By the end of 2007, modules with 10GBase-T (10G Ethernet over Category 5/6 wiring) are expected.

Woven Systems was co-founded in 2003 by Dan Maltbie, now chief product officer, who is a veteran of Fibre Channel vendor McData and HP and is active in IEEE Ethernet standards. The other founder, Bert Tanaka, CTO, was a chief scientist for satellite technology at Boeing and a veteran of Newbridge Networks. Woven CEO Harry Quackenboss's experience includes being vice president at switch vendor Crescendo Communications when it was acquired by Cisco. Woven received $US10 million in funding from Goldman Sachs and Palomar Ventures in 2005.

Woven will compete with established core Ethernet switches, such Foundry's BigIron RX, Cisco's Catalyst 6500, Extreme's BlackDiamond 10K and Force10's ER1200 series. However, analysts say the start-up will see more of a challenge from an assortment of other start-ups focused on the emerging data centre network area -- some with significant backers.

A potential Woven Systems foe already with industry buzz and built-in clout is Nuova Systems, the Cisco-backed data center network start-up founded by former top technologists from Cisco, including Mario Mazzola, Luca Cafiero, Prem Jain and Soni Jiandini.

Industry watchers say Nuova is working on a box that combines Ethernet, Fibre Channel and Infiniband switching with technologies such as remote direct memory access, a high-speed input/output technology, and server virtualization.

Other potential rivals for Woven include Teak Technologies, which is building multi-protocol data centre network gear based on IBM's BladeCenter technology. This company also has Cisco ties, with investments from the network vendor. In addition, a top Cisco routing engineer is a technical advisor to the company.

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