Alcatel Says Switch Makes Gigabit Affordable for Desktop

The new, 28-port OmniStack 6300 starts at $2,495 and is intended to cluster servers in a small data center.

Alcatel will try to nudge down the price of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity Monday when it launches a new Gigabit Ethernet fixed-configuration workgroup switch at about $90 per port.

The new OmniStack 6300 marries enterprise-class features such as enhanced security and Quality of Service with a low-cost, 28-port 10/100/1000 Layer 2 Ethernet switch that starts at $2,495.

It is intended to cluster servers in a small data center, provide an aggregation point at the edge of enterprise networks and make Gigabit Ethernet affordable for the desktop, according to Brian Witt, director of product marketing at Alcatels Enterprise Solutions Division in Calabasas, Calif.

"This is a small premium over Fast Ethernet going to the desktop. It means Gigabit [Ethernet] to the desktop is affordable now. If you want to future-proof the network to better support applications that require that speed, the premium is small," Witt said.

Whether Alcatels low-cost switch will bring pricing pressure to bear on other players, especially Cisco, remains to be seen, said Chris Kozup, program director at Meta Group Inc. in Youngstown, Ohio.

"Were still in a market where its Cisco and then theres everybody else. Itll be hard for anyone to put pricing pressure on Cisco overall, but [Cisco] continues to respond to the competitive environment," he said.

The Layer 2 switch provides several security features including extended access-control lists, IEEE 802.1x port-based authentication, private VLAN support, Media Access Control address lockdown and SSL encryption. It also provides such QoS features as rate limiting, Layer 3/4 stamping and mapping, eight queues and flow-based QoS.

The switch, which also provides dynamic link aggregation and a backup power supply, can be managed with the OmniStack 6300 element manager, which provides a command line interface similar to that used by Cisco Systems.

"It is same as Cisco, character for character," Witt said. "There are a lot of people trained on that, so they are instantly comfortable with it."

The switch provides 24 ports of RJ45 copper connectivity and four ports that can be a mix of copper or fiber links.

Alcatel also will offer a warranty on the switch that will extend support for as many as five years after Alcatel discontinues selling the switch. The OmniStack 6300 is due out Monday.

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