At NetWorld+Interop 2000 Alteon WebSystems will introduce a switch software module that will let companies control how much bandwidth is allocated to specific users and applications.
The software module for Alteon's Web OS 8.0 operating system will let users meter, control and account for bandwidth use - by client, server farm, virtual service, application, user class, content type and many other traffic classifications - using a variety of Layer 2 through Layer 7 network attributes. By controlling how much bandwidth is allocated to certain types of users, network executives can deliver quality-of-service contracts to their customers.
Using bandwidth control, servers can share loads more safely because users have a set amount of bandwidth allocated to them. That bandwidth control prevents some users from taking up too many server resources and leaving others out in the cold, according to observers.
The bandwidth management feature will be available as a module for Web OS 8.0, which runs Alteon's switches, but existing switch customers can also add the module to current switches as an upgrade for about $9,000.
"[Before we started using the new Alteon technology], we were using our firewalls to manage bandwidth, but that wasn't effective because we weren't able to designate bandwidth for certain types of users like we can now," says d'Mitri DeVos, manager of system operations at Computer.com in Maynard, Massachusetts. "Plus, now our firewalls can focus just on what they're supposed to do without getting bogged down in bandwidth issues," he adds, noting that one of the nicest features about the upgrade is that it was easily downloaded onto the switch and didn't require any new hardware. Computer.com is an educational resource site that provides information to computer users.
DeVos says by being able to designate bandwidth to specific user pools, the company can ensure that developers for its site, as well as partners and its CEO have specific amounts of bandwidth they need to get their jobs done. In addition to the bandwidth management feature, Web OS 8.0 will incorporate other new capabilities, including:
A Virtual Matrix Architecture that uses dual per-port processors to speed processing.
User-configurable directory tables that help administrators manage clients based on location for server load balancing.
User-scriptable server health checks to monitor for server uptime and performance.
Server security features and secure switch administration.
IP type-of-service tagging and traffic redirection.
Load balancing and traffic redirection with URL header parsing.
Alistair Croll, an analyst at Networkshop in Montreal, says bandwidth management can help companies with e-commerce sites ensure that important applications, such as those that let customers purchase goods and services, have enough server resources.
Aside from new software, Alteon is also introducing two additions to its ACEdirector and Alteon 180 Web switch lines: the Alteon 184 and ACEdirector 4.
The two new switches will feature 4M bytes of memory per port - twice as much per port as their predecessors, the Alteon 180e and ACEdirector3. Both new switches are aimed at the enterprise and can handle more than one million concurrent sessions per second - a twofold increase from the Alteon 180e and ACEdirector 3. The primary difference between the two switches is that the Alteon 184 has eight dual Fast Ethernet/gigabit ports, with a gigabit uplink; the ACEdirector 4 has eight Fast Ethernet ports and one gigabit uplink. Also, Alteon is offering DC power options across all Alteon Web lines in response to ISPs and application service providers, which often call for that option.
The ACEdirector 4 list price starts at $20,000, and the Alteon 184 starts at $29,000.
Alteon declined to comment on this story.