Alcatel Fortifies Switch QoS

CALABASAS, CALIF. (04/27/2000) - Alcatel SA has bolstered the software in its Gigabit Ethernet switches to support quality of service (QoS) even as traffic passes between devices using different prioritization schemes.

An upgrade in Version 3.0 of OmniCore 5000 switch software enables the boxes to impose QoS down to individual applications and map one service quality scheme to another. For example, net administrators could assign top priority to enterprise resource planning (ERP) traffic. The software inspects traffic down to the application layer at wire speed to determine what application-specific policies to apply.

The switches also can map QoS among standardized Layer 2 and 3 QoS methods.

Incoming traffic marked for priority by a type of service (TOS) bit - a Layer 3 method - could be switched to a device setting QoS using ATM service qualities, which are Layer 2. The OmniCore switch would make that translation between the TOS designation and the ATM QoS.

This feature lets customers incorporate the switches in multivendor networks with the assurance that QoS can be maintained across all devices, says Raymond Hanson, assistant marketing vice president for Alcatel's internetworking division.

"Having more flexibility with quality of service is key as we add more services. We need the certainty that we can control traffic," says Dennis Schweikhardt, manager of technology infrastructure for Spokane Public School District 81 in Spokane, Wash. The district has 52 OmniCore switches it bought from Packet Engines in 1998. Packet Engines was later bought by Alcatel.

At that time, the Spokane school network required QoS guarantees so it could support voice. OmniCore enabled QoS via Layer 2 prioritization of particular ports on the switches, Schweikhardt says.

As the school district adds more types of traffic, the software will give it more options for setting traffic priorities.

The OmniCore switches already had the processing horsepower to analyze packets and support QoS at Layer 2 and 3. The software enables Application Specific Integrated Circuits in the switches to support QoS at Layers 4 and 7 as well, Hanson says.

Free Version 3.0 software is available now to OmniCore owners with service contracts and ships with new purchases.


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