Enterasys Adds Midrange, Entry-Level Switches

New to the Enterasys product lineup is the K-Series, a modular switching line that leverages CoreFlow2, Enterasys' flow-based custom ASIC design, for establishing a flow between two devices and then assigning and enforcing policy based on that flow.

CoreFlow2 has been available on higher-end switches from Enterasys for some time, but customers have been asking for a lower-priced switch with premium features, said Ray Suarez, director of product management. On the Enterasys line card, the K-series sits between Enterasys' high-end S-series and its lower-cost edge stackables, the B-series and C-series.

"What we heard from the marketplace was a resounding, 'Could you build a portfolio of modular switches that has the premium features at a lower price?' Suarez told CRN. "When a reseller goes into an account, they're evaluating stackables and fixed products. At the edge [of the network] rather than jump from a B or a C to an S, we now have a midpoint called the K. It's a good story for partners who want to say, 'Let's take a phased approach to upgrading the network.''"

The K10 unit includes a 10-slot (7U) chassis and offers up to 216 1-Gb edge ports and eight 10-Gb uplinks, while the K6 unit has a six-slot (5U) chassis and offers up to 144 1-Gb edge ports and four 10-Gb uplinks. Both include hot-swappable I/O modules -- with 40 Gb of switching bandwidth mapped to each slot -- as well as power supplies and fan trays.

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Enterasys' "unique identifier," said Suarez, is the way its switches offer policy creation -- including categorization, access control and class of service -- and support prioritization, granular control and embedded security to backstop those policies.

In the K-series, those policies can be assigned by session. Enterasys also offers a mechanism called convergence end-point (CEP) policy that allows for automatic discovery and authentication of IP phones, reducing the expense associated with office moves and equipment changes, Suarez noted. The detection schemes include Cisco Discovery Protocol, LLDP, TCP/UDP port number snooping, reserved IP address snooping, H.323 and SIP.

"We don't have the luxury of supporting our own products and that's it, and partners support other major vendors and a host of supporting casts," Suarez said.

The other new addition to the Enterays switch lineup is the entry-level A4, whose launch completes Enterasys' ongoing refresh of its stackable switching lines. The various options for the A4 include 24- or 48-port 10/100 configurations, 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet and fiber models.

It's not a SOHO-designed switch, said Karl Pieper, product management director. The A4, he said, can support many more MAC addresses, VLANs and other needs than consumer-, SOHO- or SMB-geared switches. Its advanced QoS, for example, offers eight hardware queues and LLDP-MED to support voice and video deployments, and it provides additional network control (static routes and RIP v1 and v2) in Layer 2 and Layer 3 routing scenarios.

"We're not trying to position this as a SOHO switch or anything that gets sold into a small office," Pieper said. "This is an enterprise product all the way, and it's our entry model for the enterprise world."

The role-based access and security controls in higher-end Enterasys switches have also been extended down to Enterasys' A-series for the first time. The A4's predecessor, the A2, did not support that policy creation at a comparable level, Pieper said, but the A4 does and will see firmware upgrades later this year.

The A4 switch starts at $699, and the K-series switches start at $26,685. Both will be generally available in June. Both are also covered by Enterasys' lifetime warranty, including next-business-day hardware replacement and full software and maintenance updates where many vendors, Pieper said, only throw in bug fixes.

Enterasys, which is part of Siemens Enterprise Communications, has spent much of the past year positioning itself as channel-friendly and as a feature-rich, versatile networking and data center alternative to the space's big players. Earlier this year, Enterasys upgraded its Advantage channel program to offer higher discounts and better resources for its most loyal VARs, and is expected to address ongoing channel growth at its upcoming Americas partner conference, scheduled for May 2-4 in Puerto Rico.