Extreme Networks upgrades switch management apps

FRAMINGHAM (09/15/2003) - Extreme Networks Inc. later this month plans to release an upgraded management module for its BlackDiamond 6800 switches that company officials said supports instant fail-over and no downtime for software upgrades.

The higher level of reliability and availability in the MSM-3 software was designed for corporate LANs and metropolitan-area networks (MAN) that can't afford any downtime, said Timon Sloane, director of product management at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Extreme.

Robert Jacobs, director of network services at Phonoscope Communications Inc. in Houston, said the voice and data communications carrier has been testing MSM-3 on a BlackDiamond switch for two weeks with no problems. "Our hot button was that there was a seamless upgrade, but also the fact that you get . . . closer to 99.999 percent reliability," he said.

The greatest potential improvement, Jacobs noted, is that once the MSM-3 software is installed, code revisions and upgrades can be done without rebooting Extreme's switches. Previously, nodes on the MAN that Phonoscope operates in the Houston area had to be taken off-line for three to five minutes to do upgrades. "With our customer base, there's no good time for downtime, period," he said."Even three minutes is unacceptable."

Jacobs expects to buy and install the new software on his switches by December. Phonoscope, which has been an Extreme shop since 1999, operates a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network over nearly 40,000 miles of fiber in five counties.

Sloane said MSM-3's instant fail-over capability compares with a 12-second lag for redirecting network traffic to other switches with Extreme's existing software. The new module has a list price of US$13,995.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said the software upgrade will keep Extreme on technical par with rivals such as Foundry Networks Inc. and Enterasys Networks Inc. All three companies are vying for business against switch market leader Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd.

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