Alcatel Switch Eases Gigabit Ethernet Move

Low-cost OmniStack has high-end options.

Alcatel S.A. is trying to push down the price of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity by offering a new low-cost, fixed-configuration workgroup switch.

The OmniStack 6300 marries enterprise-class features such as enhanced security and QOS (quality of service) with a 28-port 10/100/1,000M-bps Layer 2 Ethernet switch thats priced starting at $2,495. Thats less than $90 per port, officials said.

The switch is intended for clustering servers in a small data center. It provides an aggregation point at the edge of enterprise networks and makes Gigabit Ethernet affordable for the desktop, according to a spokesman 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," the spokesman said.

Whether Alcatel, with its low-cost switch, will bring pricing pressure to bear on other players—especially Cisco Systems Inc.—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. [Cisco] continues to respond to the competitive environment," Kozup said.

Alcatels Layer 2 switch provides several security features, including extended access control lists, IEEE 802.1x port-based authentication, private virtual LAN support, media access control address lockdown and Secure Sockets Layer encryption. It also provides QOS features such as rate limiting, layers 3 and 4 stamping and mapping, eight queues, and flow-based QOS.

The switch, which 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 the one used by Cisco. That similarity should mean the technicians trained on the Cisco gear will be immediately comfortable with the Alcatel product, company officials said.

The switch provides 24 ports of RJ-45 copper connectivity and four ports that can be a mix of copper or fiber links.

Alcatel will offer a warranty on the switch that will extend support for up to five years after Alcatel discontinues selling the switch.

The OmniStack 6300 is available now.

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