Alcatel Targets Network Core, Edge With Additions to LAN Switch Family

Alcatel last week fleshed out its LAN switching family with a pair of new switches for the network core and edge.

Alcatel last week fleshed out its LAN switching family with a pair of new switches for the network core and edge.

Alcatels eBusiness Networking Division, in Calabasas, Calif., unveiled the OmniSwitch 8800 core switch, designed for high-availability Layer 3 switching, along with the OmniSwitch 6600 virtual chassis switch, which brings chassislike functions to a stackable wiring closet switch.

The switches use the same architecture and Alcatel Operating System as the rest of the OmniSwitch family—a move intended to speed trouble-shooting across the product line and ease administration.

The OmniSwitch 8800 is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet, nonblocking switch that provides 99.999 percent availability, according to an Alcatel spokesman. The switch boasts failover speed of less than 300 ms when problems occur. It is also capable of automatically rolling back configuration changes to the last known working version, should a change cause an outage.

Alcatel also sought to limit the impact of human errors by partitioning management of the switches, limiting the access to certain functions by role.

The OmniSwitch 8800 uses a 512G-bps switching fabric and supports up to 16 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports that operate at wire speed, the official said.

The OmniSwitch 6600 advanced wiring closet switch uses stackable elements that are connected with a 4G-bps redundant stacking loop, giving it "chassislike availability with a distributed intelligence architecture," said the Alcatel official. Each element in the stack has its own processing power to make Layers 3 and 4 decisions on incoming traffic.


Alcatels OmniSwitch 8800 features:
  • Nonblocking 10 Gigabit Ethernet architecture
  • 512G-bps switching fabric
  • Throughput of 240 million packets per second
  • Up to 16 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Up to 384 Gigabit Ethernet ports
Each element can act as the management module for the virtual chassis. In addition, any of the stacks elements can be removed and changed without turning the power off or interrupting the operation of the system, according to Alcatel officials.

Alcatels new generation of switches offer more competitive pricing than market leaders such as Cisco Systems Inc., but Alcatel has an uphill battle to establish itself as a viable long-term player, given its limited installed base in North America, said analyst Chris Kozup, at Meta Group Inc., in San Francisco. "Their issue is to build brand awareness as an enterprise player," Kozup said.

Alcatel, which has less than 5 percent market share for LAN switches, is offering the OmniSwitch 8800 at prices nearly 30 percent below comparable switches from Cisco and Extreme Networks Inc., according to the Alcatel spokesman. It starts at $40,995; the OmniSwitch 6600 starts at $2,785. Both are available now.