A trend on the part of network switching vendors threatens to blow the lid off the networking industry’s dirty little secret: While the majority of industry switch revenue is from Gigabit Ethernet, most switch ports shipped today are still 10/100 Ethernet.
Hewlett-Packard’s ProCurve unit on Feb. 5 will become the latest network switch vendor to release brand new 10/100 Ethernet edge switches for customers upgrading their networks. ProCurve joins others such as Extreme Networks, 3Com and Nortel Networks, who have come out with new 10/100 Ethernet switches within the last 12 months.
With the costs coming down for Gigabit Ethernet, why not just make them 10/100/1000 switches?
“Network managers tend to be less concerned with bandwidth on the LAN than they are concerned with security, voice support, Power over Ethernet [PoE], wireless LAN support-all that,” said Abner Germanow, an industry analyst with market researcher IDC. “To the extent they can get those functions enabled, that often takes precedence over a Gigabit connection that would be highly underutilized and suck more power.” Germanow said that 60 percent of all switch ports shipped are still 10/100 ports.
Toward that end, ProCurve’s new Switch 2610 Series stackables, which replace the Switch 2600 Series, add enhanced security, improve VOIP (voice over IP) support, improve traffic monitoring and deliver greater flexibility, according to Rich Horsley, the company’s product marketing manager.
5 New Models
HP added five new models in the 2610 Series, including two models that support PoE, two models without PoE, and a hybrid model that supports a mix of PoE and non-PoE ports. The models provide 24 or 48 ports.
Key in the new models is support for Access Control lists that let network administrators control inbound and outbound traffic. Support for industry-standard sFlow traffic sampling can provide greater visibility into what’s happening on the network for traffic management. Combined with ProCurve’s Network Immunity Manager, the sFlow monitoring can also be used to detect and prevent security threats.
The ProCurve 2610s follows into the market a 10/100 switch introduced last March by Nortel that offers PoE as well as another launched last April by Extreme Networks that offers advanced features at a lower price point than Gigabit Ethernet switches. Last September 3Com introduced the 10/100 Switch 4210 family, which supports more advanced security, PoE and management functions.
“We’ve seen this in a number of places,” said IDC’s Germanow. “Extreme early last summer introduced a brand new fully featured 10/100 switch that they’ve done very well with.”
At the time, Extreme’s Scott Lucas said that Extreme suspected that many customers were buying Gigabit Ethernet switches because it was the only way to get advanced features. “With [the new Summit X250] we can hit a sweet spot for telephony applications [that don’t require Gigabit speeds], but all need advanced security, high availability and so on. We’re providing those in speed and a form factor and price level that make sense,” said Lucas, senior director of solutions marketing at Extreme Networks.
Security and a lingering cost sensitivity in some enterprises could be the primary driver behind users’ reluctance to adopt Gigabit Ethernet where the speed is not needed, believes Katie Trippet, industry analyst at Synergy Research Group.
“I think there’s still that price-sensitive market, but older switches don’t have ACL features, so [ProCurve] added security features to replace older-generation switches. Cost-sensitive businesses like grocery store chains don’t want to spend a dime more than they have to, especially when they’re hooking up printers and smaller devices to store networks in multiple locations,” she said.
The HP Switch 2610 Series models are available now with ProCurve’s lifetime warranty.