IBM has significantly enhanced its networking hardware range, launching 17 new products and 10 enhancements designed to add momentum to its push towards switched virtual networking and network-centric computing.
Product areas to receive attention include switching and ATM, high-end backbone transport products, branch office access concentration products, and S/390 server and AS/400 access products. The announcement itself is based around two complementary technologies, switched virtual networking and network centric computing. "A lot of these products have been in the pipeline for some time," said IBM's marketing manager for networking hardware, Paul Kangro. "The theme behind them is to get people into network computing. And now there are products in our range that haven't been there before, so what we've really done is to round out the range."
Some of the switching products released, including the 8273 and 8274 Nways LAN RouteSwitches, result from IBM's partnership with switching vendor Xylan. While these initial offerings are basically the same as Xylan's products, significant changes can be expected further on, said Kangro. "The agreement between IBM and Xylan goes beyond rebadging product. IBM and Xylan have established an agreement to extend the products, so products coming out next year will benefit from combined technology from both companies."
Highlights in the release include the so-called "Muxmaster", IBM's 9729 Optical Wavelength Division Multiplexer, that divides a single leased optical fibre line into as many as 20 separate half duplex 200Mbit/sec channels over a distance of up to 50km. Also, IBM has video-enabled its ATM offerings, integrating MPEG encoding into the Nways ATM switch range for realtime interactive delivery of broadcast quality video over local or wide area networks. This capability adds further momentum to the push towards ATM networking, said Kangro. "One of the applications that we are typically asked to do for people is video distribution over conventional shared media networks, and ATM is perfectly structured to do that."
Further Nways switching products feature Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, FDDI and CDDI support for any-to-any switching across a wide range of workgroup and backbone configurations.
The Nways 2220 Broadband switch has been enhanced with four to seven times more voice capacity and double the T1/E11/J1 port density.
IBM has also strengthened its offerings in remote access and branch office concentration products, with an entry-level 2211 Nways Multiprotocol Router and 2216 Nways Multiaccess Connector model 400 eight-slot modular chassis-based router. The 2216 features end-to-end high performance routing (HPR) support, a new feature which has also been added to other routing products, including the 2210 access device.
While the announcement contains a number of new router products, Kangro believes the emphasis on switched virtual networking is displacing the traditional role of routers. "I think as we move forward to virtual networking switching will form the core of the networks and push routing out to the periphery of the network."