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Enterasys lowers Ethernet bar

Enterasys lowers Ethernet bar

Enterasys Networks has unveiled a new chassis-based Ethernet switch for enterprise customers that seek a compact, low-priced box for wiring closets.

With support for up to 240 10/100 Ethernet ports, the Matrix E5 switch will cost less per port and will take up less space per wiring closet than some competing chassis-based products or rack-mounted, stackable switching configurations.

Ian Fewtrell, managing director of Enterasys Australia, told ARN the Matrix E5 is "already released internally" in Australia and expects bulk shipments to start arriving shortly.

"We have a number of proposals at the moment and once they are signed and sealed, we'll see the product shipped," he said.

Fewtrell claims the product features all the mod cons for a switch of this calibre but will be available through Enterasys' traditional reseller partners at a "very competitive price point".

The Matrix E5 is a good alternative for putting a rack of stackable switches into a small wiring closet, says Patti Angers, product manager for Enterasys' Matrix line of switches. "With the Matrix E5, you have a streamlined way to put 240 10/100 ports together rather than six or seven stackable switches in a rack," Angers said.

The Matrix E5 is a complementary switch to the larger Matrix E7 backbone switch Enterasys released in April. While it has less bandwidth and packet-inspecting capabilities than its larger, Layer 3 brother, the product can be fitted with an optional advanced routing module for wire-speed Layer 3 and Layer 4 switching capabilities. Six-port Gigabit Ethernet modules can be added as well, with support for up to 30 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Modular Gigabit uplinks can also be added for connecting to a high-speed backbone.

The additions of the advanced routing module and Gigabit ports also makes the Matrix E5 a good stand-alone switching product for branch offices, giving the switch the bandwidth and quality-of-service capabilities to support integrated voice and data traffic. The routing module also allows the Matrix E5 to act as a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server, with support for up to 250 IP addresses.

The Matrix E5 features redundant power supplies and a distributed switching architecture, where Application Specific Integrated Circuits are placed on each module in the switch rather than in a central processing point. This allows each module to forward packets more quickly because packet processing is done on the board instead of in a central point, Angers said.

Fully loaded with five 48-port 10/100M bit/sec modules, the Matrix E5 has a price per port of $US138, beating the comparable Catalyst 4006 from Cisco by about $20 per port.

According to data from research firm IDC, competing with Cisco is not easy - the network equipment maker dominated the chassis-based 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch market last year with 64 per cent of the $3.8 billion worldwide market. Cabletron, which spun off Enterasys as a separate company in February, was second in the market with 8.7 per cent of the revenue.

While newer technologies, such as Layer 3 switching, Gigabit Ethernet and even 10 Gigabit Ethernet, are emerging as hot trends in the LAN switching market, IDC predicts that the installed base for 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch ports will continue to increase steadily over the next several years, growing from an estimated 47,200 this year to 117,700 in 2003.

The base price for a five-slot Matrix E5 chassis plus two power supplies is $US5465. Forty eight-port 10/100Mbps switching modules cost $US5495 each.


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