Going Up Against Cisco
"We can now understand how much bandwidth specific applications are consuming. If you don't want a user running BitTorrent, we have a new level of granularity to control that user and that application," Prince said. ConSentry believes it has an opportunity to gain a foothold with its new architecture at the edge of the network, bringing access control closer to the user and simplifying the process of setting and applying control policies. Because there's no need to manually separate traffic onto different VLANs, create and maintain ACLs or configure Quality of Service policies, the Intelligent Switching architecture simplifies the process of rolling out new applications and supporting users as they come and go.That's just fine with new customers at Adaptec, which intends to install the ConSentry switches at the edge of their network and keep Cisco in the core, according to Lou Owayni, global network/telecom manager in Milpitas, Calif. "I was concerned about interoperability and we had a couple of glitches, but the ConSentry engineers where all over it. Their dedication to solving issues was unmatched. I feel very comfortable that any issues that might arise in the future ConSentry will address in an expedient fashion," Owayni said. With a lot of enterprises now refreshing their LANs to support new VOIP (voice over IP) or wireless implementations, ConSentry may just have a shot, believes Jim Metzler, vice president of Ashton Metzler & Associates in Sanibel Island, Fla. But Cisco too is touting the need for greater intelligence in the network, and the market is beginning to see new innovation in LAN switching for the first time in years. "I think there will be an interesting battle for what kind of intelligence needs to be added where in the network," said Metzler. "The LAN used to be fast and dumb. That's not acceptable anymore. I can't assume if you're on my LAN you're a good guy. I think we'll see exciting times in the LAN in the next 24 months." ConSentry's new Intelligent Switching architecture, which exploits existing processing power in the LANShield switches, is available now as an upgrade to its LANShield OS.
While the company hopes to displace Cisco at the network's edge with its upgraded 24- and 48-port LANShield switch families, the core of the network is all Cisco's.