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More LAN Switch Choices Emerge

Like Goldilocks, small and medium businesses often have difficultly finding network equipment that is just right for them. Sometimes, the devices lack sufficient horsepower and functionality to meet their networking needs. In other cases, these systems come with a lot of functionality but it often beyond their price range. Customers desire products that intersect somewhere between those two points.That was the goal for Alcatel-Lucent, which added the OmniSwitch 6400 family of stackable, layer 2 Gigabit Ethernet LAN switches to its portfolio. The product line consists of six models, each offering 24 or 48 ports. Each device features two 10-Gigabit Ethernet stacking ports and up to four Gigabit Ethernet combo ports. Up to eight switches can be combined within a virtual chassis for a total capacity of 384 ports per stack. The product line is available with power over Ethernet capabilities to support applications, such as VoIP.

Security is another area of focus. The switches security functions include user authentication, quarantine VLANs, access control lists, encryption, and denial of service protection. The products network management functions can be integrated with other Alcatel switches. Alcatel is also touting the network equipments price points (pricing starting at $2,000 per switch), claiming it comes in 25% to 30% less than competitive products, based on configuration.

How much of an impact the new products will have on the small and medium market is unclear. Traditionally, Alcatel-Lucent has focused its energies on large enterprises and carrier. Recently, it has been taking more interest in small and medium businesses. However, with the LAN switching market settled in a mature phase, the company may find it difficult to wedge itself into the crowded SMB sector.

What do you think of Alcatel-Lucent as a supplier? How much interest do you have in its new switches? What would the company need to do to attract you as a buyer?