The boards are designed to scale the 8900 to 582 10G Ethernet ports per rack while using the same chassis customers already have to lower upgrade costs. Extreme says it is now the leader in per-slot switching capacity and 10G port density per rack with the 8900 blades, outdistancing Cisco's Nexus 7000, Brocade's BigIron RX-16, Force10's ExaScale E-series -- which was just announced at 100Gbps per slot -- and Juniper's EX8200.
Extreme also says the modules use a maximum of 2 watts per Gigabit Ethernet and 10 watts per 10G Ethernet port, which helps lower the TCO of the products.
"When Cisco came out with the Nexus 7000, a lot of customers are on the [Cisco] Catalyst 6500. Now they're going to have to replace a working piece of equipment with this new [switch]," says analyst Bill Terrill of Current Analysis. "What Extreme has done is gone ahead and said we are compatible with the chassis, you can keep using existing blades, and if you need higher performance … they have an ongoing extension."
The 8900 switch fabric card and 96-port Gigabit Ethernet module cost $25,000 apiece. The 24-port 10G Ethernet module costs $45,000. They will all be available later this quarter.
Lower TCO is also 3Com's rallying cry for reentering the U.S. large enterprise/datacenter switching market after exiting it -- twice. In 2000, 3Com alienated its largest enterprise customers by abruptly killing its CoreBuilder switch and encouraging customers to migrate to Extreme. 3Com then attempted a reentry into the large enterprise switching arena through a joint venture with China's Huawei in 2003. That venture was successful in China but barely made a dent in the United States. A few years later, 3Com bought out Huawei's stake in the joint venture and in 2008, after a failed attempt to be acquired by Bain Capital and Huawei, 3Com established its leadership and operational focus on China when it named Robert Mao as CEO, replacing Edgar Masri.
3Com is again attempting to reestablish itself in United States and other international datacenters and large enterprises after a successful run in China, where it claims market share leadership in enterprise switches and routers. 3Com says the time is ripe for tapping the U.S. market because the recession is sowing the seeds of disruptive change and prompting users to consider alternatives to their incumbent vendors, says president and COO Ron Sege.
"We're proven in China with large-scale networks and demanding customers," Sege says. "This is a unique opportunity that 3Com hasn't seen in the past."
But 3Com's banking on past practices to reengage itself with large enterprises globally: undercutting the competition on price and TCO. Even though 3Com did not announce pricing on its S 12500 datacenter switch, the company is claiming price/performance advantages over Cisco's Nexus 7000 -- twofold in performance and density -- and half the power consumption.
The S12500 can support as many as 512 10G Ethernet ports and 864 Gigabit Ethernet ports in a full rack configuration, 3Com says. It features 2.2 billion pps forwarding and 6.6Tbps switching capacity in an architecture designed for future 40/100G Ethernet, FibreChannel over Ethernet, and datacenter-optimized Ethernet applications.