Extreme launches switch hardware and software

Extreme Networks this week is expected to launch LAN edge switches and software upgrades that make it easier for customers to set up and manage VOIP and wireless LANs.

The company is introducing an upgrade to its ExtremeXOS switch operating system with support for Link Layer Discovery Protocol-Media Endpoint Discoverer (LLDP-MED) -- a standard for identifying devices attached to a LAN switch, such as IP phones, WLAN access points or other devices. Extreme also is launching new stackable and module switch gear with security and Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities as well.

LLDP-MED is a Telecommunications Industry Association standard that lets devices share configuration data with switches to which they are attached. Detailed inventory data that can be transmitted via LLDP-MED could include the brand and model number of a device, the PoE voltage requirements for the device or its physical location. Network management software that supports SNMP can be used to collect and organize the data.

LLDP-MED "is pretty important if you're deploying a large VOIP network," with equipment from different vendors, says Matthias Machowinski, an analyst with research firm Infonetics. Instead of keeping track of devices through spreadsheets, or walking around an office writing down serial numbers, the discovery protocol automates the collection and tracking of device data quickly, he adds.

Avaya and Mitel are among the IP telephony vendors with phones that support LLDP-MED.

Other new features in ExtremeXOS include several tie-ins with Extreme's Sentriant network access control/security appliance, announced last year. The features lets users write scripts that automate some security scanning tasks between the Sentriant appliance and XOS-based LAN switches at the edge, Extreme says.

Extreme also is introducing new versions of its X450 stackable switch, and new modules for its older-generation BlackDiamond 8800 chassis. New stackable switches include the X450a and X450e series, which come in 24- and 48-port versions, with options for PoE. Both boxes can be fitted with optional two-port 10G Ethernet uplink modules.

The G48Ta and G48Te blades are both 48-port 10/100/1000 modules for the BlackDiamond 8800. The G48Xa includes interchangeable fiber/copper 1000Mbps Ethernet ports, while the G48Pe includes PoE.

The stackable switches and blades share the same hardware and software, Extreme says. The difference between the "a" series and "e" series is the aggregation and edge layers. The "a" series gear is aimed at aggregation-layer deployments, and supports large router tables -- as much as 15,000 routes -- and access control lists with as many as 2,000 rules. The "e" series edge products support half the routes and access control lists. Both the X450 and G48 products support IPv6 and IPv4 router in hardware.

Among the security features supported on the stackable and module gear is the ability to assign individual media-access control addresses of PCs to unique virtual LAN (VLAN) segments, according to Extreme. This lets the switches quarantine unauthenticated or potentially dangerous network traffic when working in concert with the Sentriant NAC device.

The New X450 switches compete with stackable products such a Cisco's Catalyst 3750 series, Foundry's FastIron Edge Switch series, HP's ProCurve 2600 series boxes and Nortel's BayStack 5500 product, among others. The modular blades for the BlackDiamond 8800 have similar functions as chassis products from Cisco, Foundry Networks, HP, Nortel and others.

The Summit X450e costs US$5,000 and the SummitX450a is priced at US$6,500. The BlackDiamond 8800 G48 modules range from US$7,000 to US$16,000. The new version of ExtremeXOS is available for free to customers with updated support contracts.

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