Extreme Switches: "It's About the Network"

By Eric Griffith

April 15, 2003

Experienced network switch manufacturer Extreme Networks says you shouldn't reinvent the wheel for wireless LAN switches, and tries to prove it with new Wi-Fi products.

As part of the announcement of its "Unified Access Architecture" to integrate wired and wireless networks for enterprises, infrastructure manufacturer Extreme Networks of Santa Clara, CA, this week announced its new switch product, the Summit 300-48.

This Layer2/3 stackable switch unifies both wired and wireless in a single device. It comes with four Gigabit uplink ports that can be trunked, and 48 Ethernet ports for connecting wired users or for connecting to Extreme's other new product, the Altitude 300 wireless ports. These "thin" access points provide the RF coverage for the enterprise WLAN.

The Altitude is a dual-band product with full support for 802.11a/b/g. It comes with AES hardware inside to provide advanced encryption as required by 802.11i (when that standard becomes available later this year).

The Summit 300-48's ports all provide Power over Ethernet (PoE) to the Altitude units as needed. There will be two models of the Altitude, one with an integrated antenna, and the other allowing detachable antenna options. Each Altitude uses technology from Extreme called AccessAdapt to automatically acquire its "personality" from the switch. All upgrades to the ports can take place from the centralized Summit 300-48 unit.

The company claims once the system is installed, there shouldn't be much more to do: "The way we look at the platform, it has to have a long shelf life," says Vipin Jain, Extreme's vice president and general manager of LAN Access Business. "Wireless is changing fast. We don't want customers to constantly upgrade. Customers buy the 300 product, and the switch, and it can collect dust after that. For five years, a customer shouldn't have to upgrade the hardware."

Extreme's management tools, ExtremeWare and EPICenter, have also been upgraded to address use of the new wireless components.

The company hopes that as an established player in the LAN switch world, they'll be able to displace the competition from recently announced WLAN switch startups like Vivato, Airespace, and Trapeze.

Extreme won't be shipping products until the third quarter, so they can have finalized versions of AES and 802.11g in the box. The Summit 300-48 will cost $6,495; the Altitude 300 port will be $595 per unit.

802.11 Planet Conference Just what is a wireless network switch anyway? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, June 25 - 27, 2003 at the World Trade Center Boston in Boston, MA. One of our sessions will answer that question as vendors go to head-to-head to 'discuss' what they think constitutes a "WLAN switch."



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