Cisco Enhances Gigabit Ethernet Switches

By Don E. Sears  |  Posted 2004-11-30 Email Print this article Print


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With an emphasis on bringing more security and high-availability features to the network level, Cisco continues to advance catalyst switching, IP phone capabilities and "port convergence."

Cisco Systems on Tuesday announced enhancements to its Catalyst switching product line, and also announced "the industry's first" Gigabit Ethernet-enabled IP phone. The switch improvements, announced in a news release, focus on security, high availability, failure-detection features and options for migrating to 10-Gigabit Ethernet.

For security features, Cisco Systems Inc. highlighted the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Supervisor Engine 32, which allows customers to enable hardware-based security features, such as DoS (denial of service) mitigation to protect network application performance. The switch engine also supports multicast applications at the network edge.

For high availability, Cisco promoted new Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) innovations that include Layer 3 nonstop forwarding with stateful switch over NSF/SSO on the Cisco Catalyst 6500 and Layer 2 SSO on the 6500 and 4500. These enhancements enable subsecond failover capabilities for continuity of services such as IP telephony.

A new "proactive" feature called GOLD (Generic Online Diagnostics) for the 6500 series is intended to detect and address faults in the switch before impacting traffic and switch availability.

Read more here about Cisco's Catalyst switches.

Cisco's Catalyst switch products extend 10-Gigabit Ethernet support to the network edge in its modular switches. The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Supervisor Engine 32 is offered with a choice of two 10-Gigabit Ethernet XENPAK-based ports or eight 1gbps SFP (small form factor pluggable)-based uplinks.

New to the 4500 series is Layer 2/3/4 supervisor engine V-10GE, which offers dual wire-speed 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports or four 10GbE ports as deployment options. By combining 10GbE and GbE ports on the same supervisor engine, Cisco claims this provides "investment protection in LAN access with an easy migration path to 10GbE by simply adding 10GbE optical interfaces."

In a related, question-and-answer style news release from Cisco on Tuesday, John McCool, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit Switching business unit, said the following about these announcements:

"A key enhancement … is extending what we call the 'converged port' across the switching portfolio. This is a port that provides both GigE speed and POE [Power over Ethernet] capabilities.

"Power over Ethernet makes it possible for Ethernet cables to deliver electrical power to network devices, such as IP phones or wireless access points," McCool said. "With these enhancements, customers don't have to pick one capability over the other."

McCool said the use of Gigabit bandwidth for most organizations is far from overkill. "New audio and video services need such bandwidth for ensuring even better quality," he said. "That increased quality makes applications such as e-learning, video conferencing and multimedia collaboration much more effective.

"GigE LANs can help boost a company's ability to recover from desktop failures. And on a corporate scale, database backup and disaster-recovery practices usually require all the bandwidth you can muster."

McCool also touched on more specific industry use. "Health care … is now quickly adopting digital image archiving and transport applications for X-rays, MRIs and other diagnostic information," he said. "As more and more of these high-resolution, large image files travel on health care networks, GigE will be a necessity."

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