Nortel Builds Greater Resiliency Into Switches

New switches designed to help enterprises deploy secure multimedia apps at the edge of their networks.

The growth of real-time, collaborative enterprise applications, such as instant messaging and IP telephony, is spurring Nortel Networks Inc. to build greater redundancy and resilience into its switches. Tuesday, Nortel will announce two new switches designed to help enterprises deploy secure multimedia applications at the edge of their networks.

Real-time collaborative applications operate on distributed architecture with little central management, but typically the corporate local area network was designed to handle client server applications. The unpredictable nature of traffic from collaborative applications demands a more flexible LAN environment from Nortels perspective.

The BayStack 5000 series of switches, growing out of Nortels BayStack 470 line, improves stacking performance for collaborative applications, Diane Schmidt, director of product marketing at Nortels Internet Switching Business, said. The switches, which provide Ethernet and Gigabit connectivity, incorporate simultaneous bi-directional traffic flow technology to improve the resiliency of the stack, she said, adding that they also seek the fastest path to users, making collaborative applications quicker.

"We feel this is a breakthrough platform for stackable switches," Schmidt said, adding that the new line supports Split Multi Link Trunking for rapid network recovery, and Flexible Advanced Stacking Technology to reroute traffic around a unit within a stack that is not working properly.

To gain greater economies of scale and offer a competitive price, Nortel tightly integrated 48 Gigabit ports into one box, achieving between two and three times greater density, Schmidt said. The 5000 series also offers a 24-port unit.

The Passport 8300 Ethernet Switch, which will also be announced Tuesday, is similar to the Baystack 5000 switches, but it is built for enterprises that prefer a modular platform. Modules can be upgraded, allowing enterprises to "pay as they go."

"From customer perspective it is almost a religious argument—which is better stackable versus modular," Schmidt said.

The Passport 8300 switch includes Power over Ethernet, which Nortel anticipates will become increasingly vital as enterprises move toward converged networks. It will be available in September.

The Baystack 5000 line will not include Power over Ethernet in September when it first becomes available, but it will incorporate it in a version to be released in the first quarter next year, Schmidt.

The new products have just entered the beta testing phase, Nortel spokesman Pat Cooper said.