Extreme launches LAN, WLAN gear and management software

Vendor’s 10/100 switches pack in high-end features; WLAN switches improve on failover, coverage

Extreme Networks this week is pitching wiring closet switches aimed at users who prefer advanced features -- such as Power over Ethernet, 802.1x and IPv6 -- over Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop.

Extreme says its Summit X250e series switches bring the advanced features found mostly in triple-speed (10/100/1000Mbps) switch ports to the 10/100Mbps level, which could save users as much as 50% in per-port cost. Extreme is also launching new software to create advanced stacks of its Summit switches, as well as upgraded wireless LAN (WLAN) and network management wares.

Less is more

Many equipment vendors, Extreme included, have touted triple-speed switches in the LAN access layer as a check-box item for network professionals shopping for Ethernet switch gear. Wiring closet gear produced by Cisco, Foundry, Extreme and others over the last few years have wrapped triple-speed ports with PoE, advanced QoS, switch management and provisioning features.

Extreme says its new Summit X250e series puts PoE, 802.1x authentication, IPv6, and Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP), a standard for finding LAN-attached devices, with 24- and 48-port 10/100mbps switches which cost half as much as Extreme's similar-feature triple-speed Summit X450 boxes, according to Scott Lucas, a marketing director for Extreme. He calls Gigabit Ethernet charges "an unnecessary cost" vendors tack on to switches that provide enterprise-class features.

The Summit X250e ship as Layer 2 switches, but can be upgraded to Layer 3 with a US$700 software license.

Also introduced this week is ExtremeXOS 12.0, switch operating system software that adds advanced stacking capabilities and stack management features for all ExtremeXOS-capable Extreme stackable switches. The vendor says its new software provides better resiliency for stacked switches by distributing the routing tables among the switches (as many as eight), as opposed to centralizing stack management and routing onto a single "master" switch in the stack. Extreme says this provides sub-second recovery in case any switch in a stack fails, as opposed to other configurations, where it can take as long as 30 seconds for a master switch to be reestablished during a failure. Extreme says this setup requires all switches in the stack to have the full Layer 3 upgrade.

Extreme has also added a Flash-based management GUI to ExtremeXOS 12.0, called ScreenPlay. The tool can be used to configure switch settings on a single box, or a stack, with graphical interface Extreme says can be used by less-technical IT staff. Also on the software front, Extreme added Universal Port Manager capabilities to its existing EPICenter network management software. The upgrade lets EPICenter detect and provision devices such as PoE-capable IP phones or WLAN access points on a network via LLDP information.

WLAN launch

Extreme also introduced the Summit WM200 and WM2000 WLAN switches. Extreme says it has added roaming capabilities, failover features and branch-office WLAN management, which improve on the vendor's previous Summit WM100 and WM1000 series WLAN switches.

The WM200 can support 50 to 100 access points, while the WM2000 can handle as many as 200 access points. (Both boxes work with Extreme's existing Altitude 350-2 access points).

The Summit WM200 and WM2000 support "roaming domains," which provide a single SSID across multiple access points for mobile users, allowing them to stay connected as they move, Extreme says. When Extreme access points are deployed in a branch office, with the WLAN controller at a central site, the WM200 or WM2000 now allows local bridging of WLAN traffic; in the past, all WLAN traffic would have to be hauled back to the central WLAN switch over a WAN connection for processing, even if two laptops are just copying files among each other, the company says.

Improved redundancy features in the WM2000 allow two switches to both actively support as many as 200 WLAN access points, and in the event of a switch failure, swap over all AP connections to the surviving switch. This gives users a temporary window to fix or replace the failed switch, while supporting the full network from a single box.

The Summit X250 starts at US$2,000 for 24 ports and US$3,000 for 48 ports. ExtremeXOS 12.0 ships on the switches. The Universal Port Manager is a free upgrade to users of EPICenter. The Summit WM200 starts at US$17,000 and the Summit WM2000 starts at US$33,000.