Extreme Offers Copper-Based Ethernet Switch

Extreme Networks is rolling out its Summit X650 Ethernet data center switch, the latest addition to its 10GBaseT offerings that run on copper cabling, rather than fiber. Much of the 10GbE products from companies such as Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and Extreme run on fiber, which is more expensive and more sensitive than copper. In addition, because copper is so prevelent in data centers, 10GBaseT products give enterprises another path to migrating to 10GbE.

Extreme Networks is giving enterprises another path for migrating to 10 Gigabit Ethernet in the data center.

The company March 2 unveiled its Summit X650 Top-of-Rack data center switch, a 10GBaseT solution designed to give enterprises greater flexibility in migrating to 10GbE while reducing costs.

The continued consolidation of data centers and the growth of virtualization are driving the push for 10GbE networking in the data center. Much of the 10GbE technology being rolled out by companies such as Cisco Systems, Juniper, Brocade and Extreme are fiber-based, said Greg Cross, a spokesman for Extreme.

By contrast, 10GBaseT technology runs over copper cabling, which Cross said is cheaper and less sensitive than fiber. It's also prevalent in most data centers, which enables enterprises to more easily migrate to 10GbE because there is less of a need to rip and replace technology that's already there.

"This is a good choice [for enterprise] data centers with copper throughout," Cross said. "Essentially you can leave all of your [existing] equipment and put [10GbE] in when you're ready to do so."

Extreme, which also sells a host of fiber-based 10GbE products, is building a complete 10GBaseT portfolio. Along with the Summit X650 switch, Extreme also is working with chip maker Intel, which is making server adapters for the copper-based technology that use widely deployed RJ-45 connectivity.

The need for more-and faster-bandwidth in the data center is driving the push from 1GbE to 10GbE. A key in that is virtualization, which is increasing server utilization from as low as 20 percent to 50 percent or more. Greater density within the data center is also a key factor.

However, that push comes amid a global economic recession, which is putting pressure on the Ethernet switch market. On Feb. 24, Infonetics Research issued a report that said that, after a strong start to 2008, the Ethernet switch market stumbled in the fourth quarter, with revenues dropping both over the third quarter and the fourth quarter in 2007.

Market research firm Dell'Oro Group issued its own report March 2 that found similar results. According to this report, the Ethernet switch market saw a revenue decline in the fourth quarter, and is expected to decline more than 10 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

The market will lose more than $1 billion in its quarterly run rate over the course of the two quarters, the Dell'Oro report said.

However, the report also stated that 10GbE will be the only segment to show sequential port and revenue growth in 2009.