3Com pushes Layer 4 switching to the wiring closet

3Com this week released a new workgroup switch that could help IT shops interested in deploying Layer 4 traffic prioritization right now or in the near future.

The SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 SE could be deployed as a regular Layer 2 Ethernet switch for connecting desktops to a LAN or upgraded to a Layer 4 switch that can be used to enforce business polices, such as server and application port access.

The box comes with 24 ports of 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet and a single slot for a fiber or copper Gigabit Ethernet uplink port. The switch supports standard Layer 2 Ethernet VLAN and traffic prioritization with 802.1Q and 802.1p, respectively. Up to eight 4400 SEs can be linked together with stacking modules, which allow the stack to be managed as a single device with one IP address. Gigabit uplink ports can also be trunked together into a single virtual pipe - as fast as 8G bit/sec - for improved uplink speed and resiliency.

With a Layer 4 software upgrade, the switch can be used to enforce polices based on Layer 4, or the "transport" layer of an IP packet. Such information could include UDP or TCP port. Network polices based on Layer 4 could be used for limiting different types of traffic on specific end-user switch ports, or for prioritizing certain packet types, such as database or application server traffic.

3Com says that enforcing Layer 4 traffic rules at the desktop instead of the LAN distribution level or core - which is a common method - could help alleviate the burden on distribution or core switches and possibly improve backbone traffic performance.

The SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 SE is available now for US$1,300, and the Layer 4 software upgrade will be available this quarter for $500.