Alcatel to Roll Out New LAN Switches

Switches add support for converged voice, data and video traffic.

Alcatel on Monday will flesh out its new LAN switching family, designed from scratch, to support converged voice, data and video traffic with a pair of new switches for the network core and edge.

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

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

The new OmniSwitch 8800 is a "true" 10G-bps non-blocking switch that provides 99.999 percent availability, claimed an Alcatel official.

The switch is unique in that the speed of its failover is less than 300 milliseconds 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 10G-bps Ethernet ports that operate at wire speed, the official asserted.

The OmniSwitch 6600 advanced wiring closet switch uses stackable elements that are connected with a 4G-bps redundant stacking loop, giving it "chassis-like availability with a distributed intelligence architecture," described the Alcatel official. Each element in the stack has its own processing power to make Layer 3 and Layer 4 decisions on incoming traffic. Each element in the stack can act as the virtual chassiss management module, and any element can be hot-swapped.

Alcatel, which has less than a 5 percent market share for LAN switches, hopes to overcome its limited market presence by offering more competitive pricing on its OmniSwitch line. With a starting price of $40,995, the OmniSwitch 8800 is priced at 28 percent to 29 percent less than comparable switches from market leaders Cisco Systems Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc., the Alcatel official asserted. The OmniSwitch 6000 starts at $2,785. Both are available on Monday.