Alcatel Makes High-Density Gigabit Ethernet Play

The new Smart High Density modules, available for Alcatel's OmniSwitch 7000 and 8000 series modular chassis-based LAN switches, combine oversubscription with distributed Quality of Service (QoS).

Through oversubscription, a means of connecting more ports than could fully be supported simultaneously, Alcatel is tripling the Gigabit port density of its switches while delivering at least a 50 percent reduction in price per port, said Brian Witt, director of product marketing at Alcatel, Calabasas, Calif.

Alcatel previously offered only the more expensive wire speed Gigabit Ethernet cards. "A wire rate card is overkill for some users," Witt said.

The new modules round out Alcatel's portfolio and should help it compete with vendors such as Cisco Systems that already offer oversubscribed Gigabit Ethernet cards, said Joshua Johnson, industry analyst at Synergy Research Group. At the same time, Alcatel's architecture for distributed QoS,which performs prioritization at each port vs. centralized QoS in the switch fabric,is unique, Johnson said.

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"If you try to prioritize all the packets at one place from all the different ports, you could have dropped packets before they even get there. Alcatel is doing it right at the port, so a packet that needs to be given priority is tagged right away," Johnson said.

More customers are looking for Gigabit Ethernet options as they move to new technology, such as IP telephony, and put more services over their data networks, said Thomas Crowe, manager of sales and marketing at Telecom Technicians, a Sterling Heights, Mich., solution provider. "I don't think I can name a customer that hasn't asked about it," Crowe said.

The OmniSwitch OS7-GNI-C12 is a 12-port copper Gigabit Ethernet module for Alcatel's OmniSwitch 7000 series that is oversubscribed at a ratio of 4:1. Priced at $2,295, it supports 96 ports for the 7700 and 192 ports for the 7800.

The OmniSwitch OS8-GNI-U24 is a 24-port fiber Gigabit Ethernet module for the OmniSwitch 8800 that is oversubscribed at 2:1. Priced at $15,995, it supports a total of 384 ports.

The OmniSwitch OS8-GNI-C24 is a 24-port copper Gigabit Ethernet module for the 8800 that is oversubscribed at 4:1, supporting 384 ports for $9,995.

Available now, all of the new modules are hot-swappable.