Zuma switches double as server appliances

Who says there are no new enterprise network switch makers on the scene?

A West Hills, Calif., start-up called Zuma Networks Inc. will debut several new switches this week that could interest companies looking to integrate server appliance functions into an Ethernet switch backplane.

Zuma's switches have line cards that can act as miniature servers that tie into the backplane, letting the box perform more IP services on top of Layer 2 through Layer 4 switching and routing, such as firewall or intrusion detection. The company says integration with the backplane lets Zuma's gear function much faster than an external network appliance attached to a regular switch.

At NetWorld+Interop 2001, Zuma will demonstrate its LightReef line of switches that feature a variety of Fast Ethernet and Gigabit port line cards, as well as its "Linux processor" modules. The modules act as miniature, onboard servers running the Linux operating system. Zuma says it wants to partner with firms that can develop IP service applications to run on its line of Linux-based switch modules.

Zuma's LightReef Z1 is a 24-port 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet switch with one "Linux blade" slot. The LightReef Z4 can handle up to 120 10/100 ports, and 30 Gigabit Ethernet ports and two Linux processing blades. Zuma's high-end chassis is the LightReef Z16, which has a 256M-bit/sec backplane, room for 16 Linux modules, and can be loaded with 126 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 500 10/100 ports, or a combination in between.

The LightReef Z1 should be available May 30, and the Z4 a month later. The Z16's availability has not yet been released. The switches will cost from US$12,000 to $200,000 depending on switch port and Linux blade configurations.

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