New Switch Expands HP Blade Server Options

Blade Network Technologies will offer the first 10G Ethernet-capable blade server switch for HP BladeSystem c-Class blade switches.

Blade Network Technologies on June 5 will take the wraps off the first 10 Gigabit Ethernet-capable blade server switch for Hewlett-Packards HP BladeSystem c-Class blade switches. The new HP 1:10Gb Ethernet BL-c switch provides a combination of 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet links for HP ProLiant and Integrity server blades in the HP BladeSystem enclosure. HP resells the BNT switches as its own.

BNT, a spinoff of Nortel Networks, over the last 18 months has carved out the leading market share for blade server switching among HP and IBM blade server systems, according to Vikram Mehta, president and CEO of BNT, in Santa Clara, Calif.

BNT has a 44 percent market share, compared with Ciscos 26 percent with its blade server switch and 26 percent for patch panels that connect to existing Layer 2 or Layer 3 switches, Mehta claimed.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Nortels spinoff of its blade server switch business into Blade Network Technologies.

"We offer twice the performance and functionality at half the cost of Cisco, we offer a lot of choice in our rich product portfolio and we spent a lot of engineering to make our products interoperate with mostly Cisco switches extremely well," he said, as an explanation for BNTs success in the subsegment of the Ethernet switching market.

The HP 1:10Gb Ethernet BL-c switch, which slides into the back of HPs blade switch enclosure, can link up to 16 HP ProLiant or Integrity server blades at 1 Gigabit Ethernet speeds. It can support up to three 10G Ethernet uplinks and four 1G Ethernet uplinks.

The new switch is also IP V6-ready, allowing customers to upgrade to the new IP addressing standard without taking the switches out of service, Mehta said.

Mehta compared having a 10G-Ethernet-ready switch to consumers buying plasma TVs now that can work with High-Definition TV signals. "Its an expensive investment. You dont want to change out your TV next year when most programming is HD. [Similarly,] when youre ready to deploy 10 Gigabit in the core of your network, you dont need to change the blade server network infrastructure," he said.

With prices expected to decrease for 10G Ethernet, demand should start to pick up for the high-speed networking technology. Now the technology costs between $3,000 and $4,000 per port, but new lower-cost interfaces based on IEEE standards completed in the fall of 2006 should push those prices lower.

BNT earlier in 2007 introduced an all-10-Gigabit-Ethernet switch for IBM blade servers, and Mehta said the company expects to launch an HP-focused all-10G-Ethernet switch relatively soon.

The new HP 1:10Gb Ethernet BL-c switch provides L2 switching; L3 forwarding based on industry standard routing protocols such as OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) and others; QOS (quality of service) prioritization, security and high-availability functions. QOS features allow the switch to classify and reclassify packets on demand. It provides an aggregate switching capacity of up to 120G bits per second operating at full-duplex. The new switch is available now from HP starting at $4,999.

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