Enterasys, Cisco Sharpen the IQ of the Network Edge

New Enterasys and Cisco products will help push intelligence to the edge of enterprise networks.

Efforts to reduce complexity and increase functionality by pushing intelligence to the edge of enterprise networks will get a boost this week with new offerings from Enterasys Networks Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

On the switch side of the equation, Enterasys is planning to launch its Matrix C2 line of Gigabit Ethernet stackable switches that integrate policy-based security along with Layer 3 switching, quality-of-service functions and POE (power over Ethernet).

At the edge of the enterprise WAN, Cisco will introduce a line of next-generation branch-office routers that integrate a range of advanced network services more tightly into the hardwares architecture.

The move to consolidate intelligence on switches and routers comes as increasing numbers of IT managers look to upgrade their networks without having to add more complex, box-strewn architectures.

Sales of enterprise switches and routers jumped 16 percent last quarter, according to DellOro Group, in Redwood City, Calif. Midrange units used for remote and branch offices accounted for more than half of that increase.

With the Matrix C2 line, Enterasys is looking to bring together the flexibility of stackable switches with the high density of chassis-based switches along with integrated security. The Matrix C2s include six 24- and 48-port models with options ranging from 10/100M-bps Ethernet ports to 10/100/1,000M-bps Ethernet ports with POE to 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The units can be mixed and matched in a stack that provides a 40G-bps interconnection. Each model supports integral policy-based security including authentication based on IEEE 802.1x, Web or media access control addresses; basic and extended access control lists; MAC port locking; and Secure Sockets Layer, Secure Shell and SNMP V3 protocols.

"What sets us apart is the dynamic policy capability and applying granular policies to users with key security needs," said Bill Clark, director of the technology leadership group at Enterasys, in Andover, Mass. "Our policy architecture says well change the rules associated with a certain application in the network, define it, and, with a click, shut down a virus or worm."

Implementing such security in the network switch is becoming a requirement as networks evolve, according to early Matrix C2 user Stephen Arnold, CIO at Ernst & Young LLP, in Sydney, Australia.

"Traditional security architectures are not viable going forward," Arnold said. "Increasingly, were opening up our networks for direct communication with our clients and making more technologies available that arent as secure—like wireless. Its far more important now to build security systemically into the infrastructure."

The Matrix C2s, which are available now and range in price from $4,500 to $13,000, are the industrys first stackable 10/100/1,000M-bps Gigabit Ethernet switches with POE, according to analysts.

3Com Corp. is working to bring POE to its Superstack 3 line of switches, but that wont happen until next year, according to Bipin Mistry, manager of the systems architecture group at 3Com, in Marlboro, Mass.

"Well be moving security and traffic shaping closer to the edge as well," Mistry said.

Meanwhile, Ciscos new Integrated Services Routers, ranging from the low-end 1800 Series through the 2800 and 3800 Series routers, include embedded advanced services to better support converged, Web-based applications that require voice and data to be delivered securely in branch offices, said Cisco officials in San Jose, Calif.

Cisco built on-board encryption and VPN acceleration into all three router lines. The vendor also incorporated on-board digital signal processors to accelerate voice traffic into the 3800 and 2800 lines, along with optional support for POE.

"We tried [working with Cisco] 2600 routers, but there was no room to add content management or other functions after routing and voice," said early-user Chris Fairbanks, principal network architect at ePlus Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif. "With the new generation, we can do all that in one box and still have more room."

The ISR line adds support for concurrent services at wire speeds—T-3 for the 3800, T-1 for the 2800, and T-1 or xDSL for the 1800. Also key is the additional capacity to run Layer 4-through-Layer 7 services. The 1800 and 2800 are due by months end; the 3800 is due next month. They range in price from $1,395 to $9,500.


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