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Smaller Is Better For Networking Gear Vendors

LAS VEGAS -- Size does matter, according to builders of networking hardware. As in, smaller is better.

That's the message from both IBM and Adtran, which both announced products at this week's NetWorld + Interop show that integrate more networking functions into a smaller form factor. According to both companies, having less gear can mean more customers, especially in the small-business or branch office markets.

IBM was at the show demonstrating a Fibre Channel switch-on-a-blade
jointly developed with Brocade that fits into IBM's blade server chassis. Adtran was showing its new NetVanta 5000, a line of access routers that support dual T3 circuits, and can integrate other networking functions, such as VPNs.

Better physical integration of networking gear, both companies said, has attracted new customers whose space, time and administration resources are limited.

"There's been a lot of interest from customers in the retail space," said Jeff Benck, vice president and business line executive for IBM's eServer BladeCenter group. Being able to add more networking functionality into a single chassis with a slide-in blade, he said, is "very compelling to a smaller firm, who may not have a technician who can spend three or four hours cabling a rack together."

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