Extreme Boosts Network Switch Line

New management module adds high-end resiliency features.

Extreme Networks Inc. demonstrated its continued commitment to its five-year-old Black Diamond network switch line with a new management module that adds high-end resiliency features.

The new MSM-3 management module, which is backward compatible with existing line cards for the Black Diamond 6800 modular switch, adds "hitless failover" in the event of an outage or performance hiccup as well as the ability to upgrade software for the switch without having to take the network down, according to Duncan Potter, vice president of marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif., networking vendor.

"Should a failure occur, we can fail over without significant packet loss. And were adding further capability to upgrade software without having to reboot the device," he said. Competing network switches—with the exception of very high-end core Internet routers—require a reboot, which must be scheduled during off hours to avoid network downtime.

For large networks supporting a variety of users, even a few minutes of downtime to reboot a switch can be too much, believes Robert Jacobs, director of network services at Phonoscope Ltd., a Houston, Texas, network services provider.

"There is no such thing as a good time for downtime. Even though it only takes three to five minutes to reboot a switch for a software upgrade, multiply that by 500 devices and thats a lot," said Jacobs, who tested the new hitless failover capability in a lab and saw no "glitches" when running voice over IP or video conferencing.

The MSM-3 also boosts the capacity of the Black Diamond 6800 in doubling the size of its route table and in doubling the total number of Access Control Lists the switch can handle up to 10,000 entries. Such ACLs can be used to block known Internet worms.

The third-generation management module also boosts the performance of functions such as Network Address Translation and Server Load Balancing by between 200 and 400 percent.

The MSM-3 is available this week and is priced at $13,995.