3Com Rolls Out XRN Interconnect Kit

Kit designed to provide a more flexible way to build scaleable core networks using stackable switches.

3Com Corp. on Monday released the first deliverable in its strategy to give customers a more flexible way to build scaleable core networks using stackable switches.

The new XRN Interconnect Kit, outlined earlier this year, is designed to allow customers to create a distributed core network by connecting multiple stackable switches that are managed as a single entity.

Key to the XRN Interconnect Kit is 3Coms Gigabit Multilayer Switching software, which distributes management and control among multiple switches.

The kit also includes a cable and a pair of modules that allow two 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switches to be connected to form a distributed switching fabric.

XRN, which stands for eXpandable Resilient Networking, is a multi-phase strategy to help customers design networks that can scale quickly and at the same time spread out the cost of network expansion. In later phases, 3Com intends to increase the number of switches that can be interconnected, extend the distance that interconnected switches can span, and scale the XRN fabric to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The XRN Interconnect Kit works with 3Com Corp.s Switch 4060 and Switch 4050, as well as with the SuperStack 3 Switch 4900 family.

"Its not a replacement for a chassis (based switch), but it forms an alternative way to build the core for network managers working in a dynamic environment," said a 3Com official in Hemel Hempstead, UK. "If you have a network that has requirements for a 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch today but will need to grow over time, you can expand it later and have Layer 3 (switching) and resilience," added the spokesman.

A pair of interconnected switches can perform Layer 2 trunking operations to boost resiliency, and at Layer 3, the XRN fabric makes a pair of switches look like a single Layer 3 entity. If one fails, the other can take over Layer 3 operations in less than 10 seconds, according to the 3Com official.

The kit is priced at $6,995.