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With the launch of its Aspen 8800 enterprise LAN switches, Extreme Networks Inc. is challenging network designers to rethink the way they build systems to deal with voice traffic and growing internal security threats.

With the rise of VOIP (voice over IP) and the exponential growth of malicious traffic, Extreme officials said they believe the requirement for voice-quality connections, continuous uptime and stronger security suggests that a two-tier network architecture must replace today’s more prevalent three-tiered designs.

“We think less is more. That way, you make fewer hops and have fewer moving parts,” said Varun Nagaraj, vice president of product management at the Santa Clara, Calif., company. “The tier that faces the user is the unified access tier or layer—the user- or device-facing side. Then there is the core of the network, where the data center servers connect and where you connect to the WAN.”

The Aspen 8800 Series, with Extreme’s new, more modular ExtremeWare XOS operating system, addresses the unified access layer. The switches allow a more robust edge network to be built, overcoming deficiencies in performance and availability that have existed in typical edge switches, Nagaraj said.

The Aspen 8800 Series, which includes a 10- and a six-slot chassis, has redundant controller boards, fans, management modules with automatic failover and a redundant switch fabric to boost availability.

Extreme customers at the Luxottica Retail division of Luxottica Group S.p.A. will use Aspen 8800s with Avaya Inc.’s VOIP platform to build a converged network at its Mason, Ohio, facility. The single-wiring infrastructure for the converged voice and data network will save the company about $500,000, according to Stephen Bosch, enterprise architect, in Mason.

“We’re looking to build a flatter network to handle all the traffic because of the capacity and features the Aspen gives us. It takes a lot of the burden off of us in providing redundant facilities, wiring plans and so on,” Bosch said.

To better support IP phones and wireless access points, the Aspen 8800s include a module with 48 ports of 10/ 100/1,000BaseT, POE (power over Ethernet), and can power up to 432 Class 1 or Class 2 devices. Extreme added support for Class 3 power devices such as video cameras and made it easy to add internal power supplies.

Other modules include 48-port 10/100/1,000BaseT, 24-port 1,000BaseX and four-port 10GBaseX for Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections.

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