Alcatel OmniCore Switches Get QoS Enhancements

CALABASAS, CALIF. (04/26/2000) - 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 to Version 3.0 of OmniCore 5000 switch software enables the boxes to impose QoS down to individual applications and to map one service quality scheme to another. For example, that means network professionals can assign top priority to ERP traffic. The software inspects traffic down to the application layer at wire speed to determine what application-specific policies to apply.

In this case, ERP packets would get a guaranteed top priority.

Additionally, the switches can map quality of service among standardized layer 2 and layer 3 QoS methods. So, for example, 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 enables customers to incorporate the Alcatel switches in multi-vendor networks with the assurance that QoS 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 Omni switches that it bought from Packet Engines in 1998 intending to run voice and data over Gigabit Ethernet (NW, July 20, 1998, page 60). Packet Engines was later bought by Alcatel.

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

As the school district adds more types of traffic, the new software will give them more options for setting priorities so student Web access, for example, doesn't interfere with district business applications.

The OmniCore switches already had the processing horsepower to analyze packets and support quality of service at layer 2 and layer 3. The new software enables ASICs in the switches to support QoS at layers 4 and 7 as well, Hanson says.

The Version 3.0 software is available now free to current OmniCore owners with service contracts. It is shipping with new purchases.


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