Extreme Networks launches new networking switch

Extreme Networks Inc. is due to unveil a new switch at the Networld+Interop conference here. Like previous Extreme switches, it has been designed to enhance content networking performance by codifying routing logic in silicon, rather than software.

The Summit Px1 combines a TCP/IP session engine with full packet analysis and policy management capabilities, according to Paul De Zan, Extreme's vice-president of corporate marketing. By eschewing the traditional software-based routing model, the new Summit Px1 switch offers significant speed gains over competing products at Levels 4-7, De Zan said.

The new device promises to let users establish as many as 1,000,000 URL rules which can be applied to handle 500,000 application-aware Layer 7 connections and 1,500,000 Layer 4 connections. Moreover, the Px1 can support 120,000 connections per second -- some 12 times more than products from companies like Cisco Systems Inc., Alteon WebSystems Inc., and Foundry Networks Inc., according to De Zan.

The switch's ability to perform at wire speed could let companies rethink their network architectures, De Zan said. He noted that Extreme has already developed a Px1-based server load-balancing application that does away with the "servers in cages" model, which typically features a separate switch providing services to each group of servers. Companies can now use a single Px1 to provide server load-balancing functions to an entire data center, according to De Zan.

Thanks largely to those kinds of architectural improvements, a company can derive the same performance with one Px1 as with 50 Cisco switches, De Zan said.

Other planned applications include SSL acceleration, firewalling, streaming media replication, and Web site personalization. Extreme is also considering the possibility of licensing its Px1 technology to other companies, De Zan said.

"We haven't completely wrapped our heads around everything that can be done with this [product]", he noted. "To some extent, we want [our customers] to tell us what to do with it."

The new device fits Extreme Networks' strategy to change its image from a "hot box" (or advanced hardware) maker to a business solutions company.

"You can only sell to so many early adopters," De Zan said. "There are only so many people who either get terribly turned on by technology or are very much into the idea of using specific technologies to achieve specific ends. We need to attract more vice-president and CIO-level buyers."

The Px1 is priced at approximately US$50,000.

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