N+I Roundup: 10 Gbps, Wireless Products Debut

Although Fall Networld+Interop (N+I) 2001 ground to an effective halt on account of the terrorist attacks last week, several major vendors nonetheless managed to announce new products at the networking-oriented tradeshow.

Cisco Systems Inc., which on Wednesday announced that it planned to donate $6 million to relief organizations in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas, officially unveiled a series of 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules for its Catalyst 6500 series switches. The networking kingpin formally announced the 10 Gbps Ethernet modules during the week prior to N+I.

Analysts have long speculated that 10 Gbps Ethernet will be a key enabling technology that lets IT organizations create so-called metropolitan area networks (MAN): regional networks the size of which can far outstrip the distance limitations of the conventional LAN.

But according to Farid Neema, president of storage consultancy Peripheral Concepts, 10 Gbps Ethernet is seen as important for the acceptance of the as-yet-unfinalized SCSI-over-IP (iSCSI) standard, as well.

“Because of issues with TCP/IP [processing], 1 Gbps Ethernet falls far short of 1 Gbps Fibre [Channel], so they really need this,” he says. Not surprisingly, Neema says, Cisco – along with IBM Corp. – have been two of the foremost proponents of iSCSI, and both vendors have shipped products based on a preliminary draft of the iSCSI specification earlier this year. Cisco also showcased its new Cisco 7300 router family, which it positions as a flexible solution for mid-market customers.

The first of the 7300 series routers, the 7304, offers support for multi-protocol routing and can scale to support OC-48 speeds. In addition, the Cisco 7304 leverages a hardware-based routing engine, the NSE-100, and features support for Cisco’s Parallel Express Forwarding IP Services processing technology.

Also at N+I, Novell Corp. took the wraps off of version 6.0 of its flagship NetWare operating system. Novell claims that NetWare 6 is the most Internet-friendly release of its flagship operating system to date, and officials with the Orem, Utah-based software company point to NetWare 6’s integrated support for Internet-enabled file and print options – dubbed, respectively, iFolder and iPrint -- as well as a new feature, called WebAccess, that lets users access their files, e-mail and other information by means of a conventional Web browser.

Novell confirmed that it had also updated its Small Business Suite to incorporate support for the new NetWare 6 operating system, as well.

In the red hot wireless space, both Intel Corp. and Intermec Technologies announced new wireless LAN (WLAN) products which incorporate support for the IEEE 802.11a specification. That specification enables wireless connectivity in the 5 GHz range at a smoking 54 Mbps. Most WLAN systems currently are based on the IEEE 802.11b specification, which supports a maximum connectivity rate of only 11 Mbps.

Intel took the wraps off of its PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point, which it says can support up to 64 users per device and which it claims can provide 54 Mbps connectivity at distances of up to 100 feet. At the same time, the chipmaking giant acknowledged that it won’t ship 802.11a cardbus access cards until sometime later this year.

For its part, Intermec Technologies announced its MobileLAN 2106 Access Point, a device similar to Intel’s PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point. Like Intel, Intermec also acknowledged that it won’t ship 802.11a-compliant client cards until early 2002.

Both vendors say that their new LAN Access devices boast dual-mode support for the new 802.11a and for the older 802.11b wireless standards.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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