Networking industry showcases new products

Interop conference kicks off under the pall of lowered IT spending

The network industry will convene this week at its largest trade show and conference under the pall of lowered IT spending amid a bearish economy.

Interop will kick off in glitzy Las Vegas as some users scale back major projects and vendors lower financial guidance for 2008 as the nation girds for a recession. IT spending has already reached recessionary levels, according to research firm ChangeWave; and the stock prices of companies like Cisco and Foundry Networks have been downgraded by some investment firms in light of lowered spending's affects on revenue and earnings.

"We knew that things were really moving into a bad place several quarters ago," says Paul Carton, research director at ChangeWave. "But it actually turned negative [in] February."

A ChangeWave survey of 2,013 officials in charge of IT spending at their organizations found that 23 percent expect their company's spending to decrease in the second quarter of 2008, while 15 percent expect it to increase. Last year, the firm found that 32 percent expected an increase while 12 percent expected a decrease.

ChangeWave says this is the first time since August 2001 that one of its surveys -- taken at the midpoint of each quarter -- projected negative spending growth in IT.

Vendors are feeling the impact of lowered spending on their top- and bottom-line growth. Cisco was downgraded by UBS Warburg earlier this month on slowing orders and softness in both the United States and European enterprise markets. And Foundry was downgraded by Collins Stewart less than three weeks ago on weak enterprise spending. Extreme was downgraded by JMP Securities.

But any gloom is not going to spoil a good party. Interop officials say attendance is up 25 percent from last year and that scores of vendors will be making significant announcements at the event.

Foundry and Nortel are two of them. Both plan to push hard on datacenters and virtualization, which will be among the key themes at the conference.

Foundry is unveiling a 16-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for its BigIron RX datacenter switch for high-density connectivity of servers and storage devices. The module brings the BigIron RX switch's 10G density to 512 ports, which Foundry claims is double the 10G density of competitive datacenter switches from Cisco and Force10, and quadruple the packet-per-second performance.

Foundry is also unveiling a 48-port Gigabit Ethernet module for its NetIron MLX router that's designed to increase server aggregation and reduce the number of network elements in a datacenter. The module more that doubles the Gigabit Ethernet density of MLX-32, from 640 ports to 1,536.

The BigIron 16-port 10G Ethernet module costs $35,000 and will ship in August. The MLX 48-port Gigabit Ethernet module also costs $35,000 and will ship in the fourth quarter.

Foundry also is targeting 802.11n wireless LANs for an Interop debut. The company is upgrading its IronPoint Mobility WLAN line with two new 11n access points, and two other access points that can be converted to 11n, unlocked by a software "key" when the customer deems the time is right. The new access points cost $1,595 and $1,795, and the upgradeable access points cost $1,245 and $1,495.

Foundry also is unveiling a new controller, the MC5000, that supports up to 1,000 access points and 10Gbps of switching capacity in a five-blade chassis. Fully loaded, the box has a list price of $31,095.

All products are available in June.

Nortel is rolling out a new switch to virtualize services provided by several devices, including firewalls, application switches and SSL acceleration appliances. The VSS 5000 switch consolidates and virtualizes these functions onto a single device, and then orchestrates and provisions services to different enterprise departments or workgroups.

Nortel also is adding a new release of software to its Enterprise Routing System 8600 core switch. The software, Release 5.0, extends virtual services for LAN and data centers across the enterprise campus or metro network. It provisions services to all environments as a Layer 3 VPN, using existing MPLS control plane RFCs, Nortel says.

A version supporting campus/metro Layer 2 VPNs, based on Provider Link State Bridging, is slated for next year, the company says.

VSS 5000 will be available in the fourth quarter, and Release 5.0 of the ERS 8600 will be available later this quarter.

Cisco, meanwhile, plans to deliver a keynote address on the role the data center plays in providing universal access to content from any device. The vendor will be making announcements around how customers can incorporate video into their communication and collaboration strategies, but revealed no details. The company also will demonstrate some of its latest collaboration products.

Also on the data center, Avocent will unveil a software plug-in that the company says will enable IT managers to better control power consumption and plan for future capacity in their data centers. The DSView 3 Power Manager enables data center managers to measure power consumption and energy usage of IT equipment in near real time.

DSView 3 Power Manager is slated for general availability this July, and pricing starts at just under $5,000.

Security, application acceleration, VoIP and unified communications, and 802.11n wireless also will be top of mind at Interop. Attendees can expect to hear about:

-- Citrix announcing faster hardware that boosts the speed of its NetScaler platform's load-balancing and content-switching from 6GBps to more than 15GBps. The company says the new hardware also reduces the power consumption by 50 percent when compared to earlier models and measured in the cost per gigabyte of data per second. NetScaler MPX will be generally available at the end of April.

-- Polycom will show a new home-office router that includes QoS capabilities to shape audio and video traffic to avoid congestion and improve videoconferencing quality. Video Border Proxy (VBP) 200 prioritizes video and audio packets over data packets to make the most of home broadband connections of 256Kbps to 512K bps. The device is designed to work in tandem with Polycom's V 700 video monitor/microphone/speaker unit to support business-quality videoconferencing for a street price of less than $4,000.

-- Adtran is introducing a stand-alone IP PBX with more features and IP phones at the show. NetVanta 7060 is an IP PBX that supports digital and analog trunks, a SIP-aware firewall as well as power-over-Ethernet ports to directly power IP phones. NetVanta 7060 will ship in June and cost $9,800 for a unit with 24 phones. Two new phones, IP 706 and IP 712, have six and 12 program keys and cost $249 and $299 respectively.

-- Array Networks will announce that it has expanded its SSL VPN protection from just remote access users to also include those coming in over Wi-Fi connections, and basing authentication on users' identities. WiFiProtect is new software that runs on the company's SPX Universal Access Controller hardware and incorporates three new technologies uniquely supporting Wi-Fi, the company says. Wireless users are directed to a portal where they log on, then are diverted to the appropriate VLAN.

-- E-mail and Internet content security vendor Marshal Software will debut its Marshal Security Appliance MailMarshal e10000 e-mail security product. The vendor has packaged the software as a virtual appliance that can be installed on a VMware ESX server within the corporate DMZ. Marshal Software representatives say the virtual appliance will protect against security threats, including network identification, spam, fraud, viruses, regulatory noncompliance and intellectual property theft. MailMarshal e10000 is expected to be available within 30 days, priced at around $1,000.

-- Blue Lane Technologies will showcase the latest version of its virtual appliance for securing virtual servers. VirtualShield 4.2 now includes an application-aware firewall, which enables the software to enforce application, protocol and vulnerability security policy controls. The software also can protect virtual machines against attacks such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting and HTTP smuggling. Scheduled to be available May 15, VirtualShield 4.2 costs about $500 per VMware server.

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This story, "Networking industry showcases new products" was originally published by Network World.