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Cisco pins government hopes on low-cost tools

Cisco has added new products to its Catalyst 6500 Series line of multilayer switches, courting governments and data centers with lower operational costs and increased density.

Cisco Systems Inc. has announced a series of enhancements to its Catalyst 6500 Series of multilayer switches that are designed to bring increased density, lower cost and IPv6 to enterprise networks and data centers.

The additions include a 48-port 10/100/1000 Ethernet-over-copper module, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet-over-multimode fiber platform, a distributed forwarding daughter card and event notification software.

With these products, Cisco is addressing the move it sees businesses making toward data center consolidation, said Doug Gourlay, senior manager of products marketing for the Catalyst 6500 series. He said the 10/100/1000 module represents a 50% increase in density over Cisco's previous release and a 33% decrease in cost per port.

Government agencies and the education market are likely to be interested in this product, said Neil Osipuka, directing analyst with San Jose, Calif.-based Infonetics Research. Those entities are facing tight budget constraints, have been aggressively consolidating their data centers and are likely to be attracted to the lower cost and increased density of this product, he said.

This product also represents a significant advance in performance, said Joshua Johnson, an analyst with Phoenix-based Synergy Research Group Inc. Cisco's previous 24-port module, with a full gigabit of traffic in each port, could sustain only around 300 Mbps of throughput. Now, he said, with the new module, the top speed is 833 Mbps, much closer to wire speed.

"This is a much better solution for a data center," Johnson said.

While the market for 10 Gigabit Ethernet is small, it is a growing market among large organizations, Osipuka said. He expects to see solid growth for 10 Gigabit in that niche, he said.

Cisco's launch of an IPv4 and IPv6 distributed forwarding daughter card is also timely, Johnson said. While many organizations are not clamoring for IPv6 yet, he said that, given the number of organizations using more and more unique IP addresses, it makes sense for Cisco to move ahead with IPv6.

And Cisco is also putting a bit of sugar in the bowl for the IT department. Among the products it is releasing is "Call Home" event notification. This feature automatically contacts network administrators via pager or e-mail in the event of network problems, so they can have more freedom in how they spend their days and downtime.

"Anything that helps to make your job easier, that's a nice feature," he said.

The Cisco Catalyst 48-port 10/100/1000 for the data center and the 24-port Gigabit Ethernet module start at $15,000. The Cisco catalyst 6500 Distributed Forwarding Card starts at $7,500.

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