Allied Telesyn airs Layer 3 switches for the masses

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World |  Networking

BOTHELL, WASH. -- Three new stackable LAN switches from Allied Telesyn are intended to push Layer 3 switching from the network backbone to the desktop in companies that previously could only afford to have Layer 3 in the core.

The Rapier line of 16-, 24- and 48-port switches start at $98 per port, less than half the industry average of $222 reported by Cahners In-Stat Group in the second quarter.

The Rapier 24 is a fixed, 24-port, 10/100M bit/sec Layer 3 wiring closet switch, and the Rapier 48 features 48 fixed 10/100M bit/sec Layer 3 ports. The Rapier 16F has 16 100Base-FX Layer 3 multimode fiber-optic ports. Each switch has two slots for Gigabit Ethernet uplink modules, and a 9.6G bit/sec backplane. Each device also has a WAN access bay for adding Allied Telesyn's Network Service Module, which can accept up to four T-1 or ISDN cards and make any of the switches into an edge device for remote or branch offices.

For some time, Layer 3 switches have been on the wish list of Curtis Lee, director of technology for the South Pasadena School District in Pasadena, Calif. He uses Layer 2 Gigabit and Fast Ethernet switches from Allied Telesyn to connect five schools over a fiber backbone. Lee says he would like to use Layer 3 switching to set up more intelligent virtual LANs to better manage traffic throughout the network.

"I'd love to get Layer 3 out to each of my school buildings," Lee says, "but that just hasn't been possible due to [the technology's] price." Lee adds that low cost was what made him go with Allied Telesyn for his Layer 2 devices.

The low price of the new Rapier switches is a sign that Layer 3 technology is moving away from being a breakthrough LAN switching technology and is becoming more of a network commodity, says Lauri Vickers, an analyst with Cahners In-Stat Group.

"What I've always said about Allied Telesyn is that it is a [technology]-adoption accelerator," Vickers says, adding that the company "is not there to set the bleeding edge of the market; it's there to look at what's going on, determine what's profitable, and create follow-on products."

Layer 3 switch ports will account for 37% of all LAN switch ports by 2003, up from a projected 15% this year, according to IDC, a Framingham, Mass., research firm.

The Rapier 24 costs $2,995 and will be available Oct. 31. The Rapier 16F costs $6,495 and will ship in November. The Rapier 48 costs $4,695 and will be available in December.

Allied Telesyn: www.alliedtelesyn.com

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