Enterasys Networks and Netgear each recently debuted LAN switches aimed at scaling up networks in small and midsize companies.
Enterasys introduced Matrix V2, a fixed-configuration stackable switch that could be used to add quality of service (QoS) and other advanced features to small business networks. Also, Netgear, traditionally a consumer-focused firm, launched its FS526T 24+2 Smart Switch, aimed at the same customers: smaller companies looking to add advanced LAN traffic features.
The Enterasys Matrix V2 is a 24-port 10/100mbit/s ethernet switch with two gigabit ethernet ports for connecting to a LAN backbone or for stacking Matrix V2s. (Eight units can be stacked and managed as one device.)
The Enterasys switch also provides features such as Layer 2 QoS (802.1p) and virtual LAN (VLAN) support. The box can classify and prioritize Layer 2, 3 and 4 traffic based on such data as packet IP address, media access control address or TCP/User Datagram Protocol (UDP) port information inside the packet.
The box is manageable via SNMP, and has Web interface and Remote Monitoring capabilities. Secure Shell and Secure Sockets Layer support is included for secure device management, and 802.1x and RADIUS support for securing both wired and wireless clients at the switch-port level.
Netgear offers a similarly built box, with 24 10/100 ports, but with two built-in 10/100/1000M bit/sec Ethernet ports for network or server uplinks. The box supports features such as 802.1p and VLANs, port trunking (for linking separate physical ports into a faster virtual link), and a Web browser interface for configuring and managing settings on the device.
While analysts keep predicting the imminent turnaround for big-business IT spending, network vendors on both the large corporations and small office/home office ends of the spectrum have gone after smaller companies. Cisco Systems has led a movement among large enterprise network vendors of marketing toward smaller firms, along with its acquisition of commodity network vendor Linksys Group. Dell also has made this a focus with its PowerConnect switch line for small to midsize businesses (SMB). Competitors at the lower-end of the market alternatively have upscaled their offerings; consumer-brand companies such as D-Link Systems, Netgear and others now offer technologies such as Layer 3 Gigabit Ethernet and SNMP on their boxes.
Analysts say an increased use of enterprise-level applications — such as ERP and CRM systems — by small and midsize companies is spurring demand for more robust infrastructures in such firms. Jupiter Media Metrix predicts that sales of enterprise software to small and midsize firms (100 to 500 employees) will increase over the next three years, going from just less than $US1 billion in 2001 to more than $3.4 billion by 2006.
Meanwhile, Gartner says that SMB spending will increase 7.6 % in 2004, as companies look to upgrade such hardware and PCs and servers, with upgrades from 100M bit/sec to Gigabit Ethernet on server and backbone switch connections.
Netgear's FS526T 24+2 Smart Switch is available for $US400, while Enterasys' Matrix V2 costs $400.