A 'Shore' Thing

Shore's SM-2601F Gigabit Link Protector makes sure your vital gigabit links stay up.

February 17, 2003

3 Min Read
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The SM-2601F stands guard between a server or protected switch/server combination and a router or switch. It offers the added benefit of management-forced switchover to the secondary path to allow for maintenance on the primary link's devices. If the switch that feeds your critical server on the primary link needs maintenance, you can force the SM-2601F to activate the backup link, which will then connect the server to another switch. The transition should be swift enough at the rated 30-ms failover speed that most of the protected server's network applications won't skip a beat, and the desired tasks can be carried out on your now-offline router. Want even more protection? Run the redundant leg to a completely different switch.

Protecting Your Linksclick to enlarge

You can order industry-standard LX (long haul) or SX (short haul) fiber interfaces as dictated by your topology, but fixed LC jacks are your only option for network connectivity. The protected server/router can use LC fiber or an RJ-45 gigabit port, and management is done through a simple 10-Mbps RJ-45 connection. A standard DB-9 console port, an alarm contact jack, well-thought-out indicators and a few control buttons round out the SM-2601F's user controls. A redundant power supply is available for greater reliability.

Simple Interface

Setup of the SM-2601F begins with console connection or BOOTP dynamic assignment of an IP address. There is no GUI, but the same staff members that work the network routers would likely configure this device, so the command-line approach should be easy. You can enable or turn off telnet service to the box for security and accomplish the overall device setup in minutes if you know your desired configuration before you fire up the unit.

For my tests, I connected my protected server through the SM-2601F version SX to two Cisco Systems Catalyst 3524 switches on GBIC ports. I had some odd negotiation problems between one of the switch ports and the SM-2601F, but a bit of switch configuration smoothed it out. The failover process worked as advertised--when I tampered with the primary connection, the backup took over without skipping a beat. I manipulated the physical connection and disabled the switch port in management to induce failover, and the panel alarms and SNMP trap notification went out as expected. After several dozen forced failovers, the only strange result was a single instance of slow link acquisition between the SM-2601F and the switch, but I couldn't duplicate it. Every other time, the primary link took over seamlessly.

Two SM-2601F units can occupy a single rack unit and ensure redundant connectivity. The look of the SM-2601F is understated, with simple push buttons on its face and basic command-line and standard MIB controls that offer pretty neat protection. Automatic failover, local and remote control, failure reporting and configuration flexibility make the SM-2601F worth a look for your important gigabit links.

Lee Badman is a network engineer at Syracuse University. Write to him at [email protected].

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