November 30, 2004 6:15 AM PST

Cisco updates Ethernet switches

Cisco Systems has made several improvements to its Ethernet switches to protect businesses from security threats and help them run Internet Protocol telephony more reliably.

On Tuesday, the company announced a slew of enhancements to its Catalyst line of switches, including new Supervisor Engines for its Catalyst 6500 and 4500 switches, and several new capabilities across its product line.

The new products and enhancements are designed to help customers more affordably extend security and resiliency across their entire network from the core all the way to access switches, where individual servers and desktops are connected.

"We're offering features that people typically associate with more expensive core switches on less-expensive switches designed for the access layer," said John McCool, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit switching unit.

For its Catalyst 6500 switch, Cisco is introducing the new Supervisor Engine 32, a switch engine that has 32 gigabits per second of forwarding capacity. The Supervisor 32 is based on technology found in the Supervisor Engine 720, which has 720gbps of forwarding capacity. Like its big brother, the Supervisor 32 provides security features, such as denial-of-service protection, in hardware.

The new Supervisor 32 also offers 10-Gigabit Ethernet uplinks. It comes in two versions. One, which supports two ports of 10-Gigabit Ethernet, sells for $20,000. The other supports eight 1gbps Ethernet interfaces and has a list price of $15,000. The Supervisor 720 starts at about $28,000.

Cisco has also introduced a new Supervisor Engine for its Catalyst 4500, extending 10-Gigabit Ethernet uplinks further into the access network. The Supervisor Engine V-10GE offers either two 10gbps interfaces or four 1gbps Ethernet ports. Both options sell for $19,995.

In addition to the new products, Cisco also introduced new features across its product line, which are designed to help ensure that its switches always remain up, a critical feature for IP telephony. Specifically, Cisco has added two new software features to its switches called Non-stop Forwarding and Stateful Switch Over. These enhancements enable sub-second failover so that voice calls won't be dropped even if a failure occurs on the switch.

Cisco also extended its Power over Ethernet feature to a wider group of products, including the Catalyst 6500, 3750 and 3560. And finally, the company has introduced the first gigabit Ethernet-enabled phone, the Cisco IP Phone 7971G-G.

Cisco has recently come under attack from a slew of competitors. Earlier this month, Hewlett-Packard introduced a new product that competes directly with Cisco's 3750. Other competitors, such as 3Com, Dell and Enterasys Networks, have also introduced competing products. Still, Cisco dominates the market with roughly 80 percent market share. The company hopes that adding new features and capabilities will help keep it ahead of the competition.

 

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