Extreme Networks will head to Interop next week with a new data center switch configuration that will boast as many as 582 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) in a single rack.
Extreme engineered this capacity on its existing BlackDiamond 8800 chassis switch, which was launched in 2004. Its new BlackDiamond 8900-Series modules can be swapped into the 8800 chassis to deliver the higher-density capabilities, increasing 10 GbE capacity from 198 ports to 582.
"Looking at the demands of the dynamic data center, from top-of-rack and end-of-rack, [Extreme] is giving [itself] enough headroom to meet today's requirements but easily give its customers something that will scale," said Jon Oltsik, principal analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "When people start stacking 10 GbE servers and dozens of virtual machines into each system, this new Extreme equipment can scale to meet those demands."
In all, Extreme is introducing three BlackDiamond 8900-Series modules: A 128/80 gigabit-per-slot management fabric module (list price $24,995), a 24-port 10 GbE card (list price $44,995), and a 96-port 1 GbE card (list price $24,995). Kevin Ryan, Extreme's director of data center solutions, said the new high-density 1 GbE modules will allow customers to have more than 2,000 1 GbE ports in a single rack of switches.
"We've been able to release this functionality based on service blades, so we're able to get them in our existing chassis," Ryan said. "Customers don't need a forklift upgrade to migrate their networks from 1 GbE to 10 GbE. There's still a lot of 1 GbE in the network, and we expect the migration to happen over time. By being able to put the service blades in our existing chassis, we enable that to be a very flexible upgrade path."
Ryan also emphasized the power efficiency of the new 8900-Series modules. They consume about 2 watts of power per 1 GbE port and 10 watts per 10 GbE port, which he said far outperforms the power efficiency of Cisco's 6509 switches and Brocade's current offerings. The switches also feature a hibernation mode, where unused ports can be shut down during times of low usage. Ryan said that, over time, this will allow customers to reduce power consumption by an additional 30%.
"In terms of port density, they're now in the high end," Oltsik said. "But that's always going to be a bit of leapfrog. I think from a technology perspective they've always had a good switching story. The question is how can they compete in terms of marketing and in terms of distribution and in terms of consideration from customers. I think customers are much more open to looking at alternatives to Cisco."
Oltsik said that Extreme's major challenge will be finding those deals without the resources of a larger company like Cisco or Juniper.
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