Switches Ease Distribution

Enterasys' Matrix N-Series line features high availability.

Enterasys Networks Inc. will try to hit the comeback trail this week when it debuts its next-generation Matrix N-Series switch line (pictured below).

The multilayer switches boast a series of firsts, including the first fully distributed switching architecture that doesnt rely on a single supervisor module, said Enterasys officials, in Andover, Mass.

"We can fully distribute switching, routing, security and network management. Were not relying on one module to provide those capabilities," said Stan Stevens, product manager for the Matrix N-Series.

The line, which provides an aggregate switching capacity of up to 1.68 terabytes per second, makes use of fully meshed point-to-point connections in the backplane.

It includes the Matrix N3 three-slot chassis and Matrix N7 seven-slot chassis, which can accommodate existing Enterasys switching modules or the new DFE (Distributed Forwarding Engine) modules.


The DFE modules, which use Enterasys designed application-specific integrated circuits for advanced switching, routing and security functions, include their own Layer 2 switch; Layer 3 routing engine; and three levels of security for the user, host and network.

The high-availability design and high performance of the new switches are key attributes for Enterasys users looking to use the switches at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

"Were a research university with 40,000 end points on our network. That requires a lot of bandwidth. This allows us to push the envelopes on that a little farther out," said James Wiede, director of networking at USC. "The distributed architecture is extremely important."

Enterasys also focused on stateful failover in the line, which officials said is unique because of the DFE modules ability to automatically learn the previous configuration of a failed module that it is replacing. "Theres no need for intervention. You just slide in the new card," said Stevens.

The Matrix N-Series switches support only Ethernet technology. Enterasys added a range of new DFEs for it, including a 48-port 10/100BaseTX line card with one expansion slot, a 12-port Gigabit Ethernet module, a 30-port 10/ 100/1,000BaseTX module and a 72-port 10/100BaseTX module with RJ-21 telco ports.

A 10 Gigabit Ethernet module is due next quarter.