3Com provides Gigabit, ATM migration for FDDI

3Com is shipping a new FDDI module for its CoreBuilder 3500 backbone switch, providing an easy way to move FDDI networks to Layer 3 switched Gigabit Ethernet and ATM.

The company is alone among the top four internetworking vendors in targeting wide-scale FDDI migration in a backbone switch. The six-port FDDI module plugs into the CoreBuilder 3500, a five-slot, chassis-based Layer 3 switch.

In the third quarter, 3Com also plans to introduce a six-port FDDI module for its CoreBuilder 9000, the company's high-end Gigabit Ethernet and ATM switch. The CoreBuilder 9000 is a 16-slot chassis-based Layer 3 switch with a backplane capacity of 560Gigabit per second.

The CoreBuilder switch will allow dual connections to existing FDDI devices, as long as the redundancy FDDI users expect a lower price. Joe Szabo, director of enterprise computing for the Fleet Financial Group says he can buy two Gigabit Ethernet NICs (network interface cards) for one-third the cost of an FDDI NIC.

Szabo is also looking forward to saving the $US80,000 per month he pays AT&T for a leased FDDI line. He is using the FDDI modules in both the CoreBuilder 3500 and CoreBuilder 9000 to migrate his metropolitan area network from FDDI to Ethernet.

Szabo says it is increasingly difficult to find replacement FDDI parts. In any case, Ethernet provides better performance.

"We're moving from a monolithic environment where it's collision detection, collision avoidance, to a VLAN, so people don't have to contend for traffic," he says.

Eventually, Szabo will replace the FDDI network with High-Speed Serial Interface (HSSI) modules on the CoreBuilder 9000. Each module for the switch has two HSSI ports.

With the FDDI topping out at 100Megabit per second and prices remaining stagnant while Ethernet and ATM costs drop, 3Com sees a growing market for migration. Scott Wieder, 3Com's business manager for Ethernet Campus Solutions, says there are about 6,000 large enterprises using FDDI.

The six-port FDDI modules for the CoreBuilder 3500 are shipping now. They list for $US14,995 for multimode fibre and $19,994 for single-mode fibre. The six-port multimode fibre module for the CoreBuilder 9000 is slated to ship in the third quarter and will list for $17,995.

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