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Gigabit-speed start-ups vie for niche

Young networking companies will use next week?s NetWorld+Interop show to prove themselves to investors and network managers.

    Start-up networking companies continue to hope the need for speed from administrators will go on unabated.

    GigaLabs and Foundry Networks will be among several young gigabit-speed companies hoping to carve out a niche in high-speed internetworking.

    The embryonic players continue to fight for recognition, even as larger networking players lay out their bids for a slice of the lucrative high-speed internetworking pie. (See related story) A standard for gigabit Ethernet is expected to be ratified by early next year, setting the stage for a furious race to gain the upper hand in a rapidly evolving market.

    Young networkers will have to fight for time against stalwarts such as Cisco Systems and Cabletron Systems, which will roll out new gear at next week?s NetWorld+Interop show in Atlanta. They may also have to convince the venture capitalists that funded them that they can remain viable against veteran competitors with well-heeled service organizations.

    But for pure speed, GigaLabs may catch the eye of some network managers, with the company boasting 128 gigabits per second of total capacity for scooting Net traffic to its destination. Targeting large enterprise networks and service providers, the new gear--dubbed the GigaStar 8000--does not come cheap: $350,000 for a 32-slot gigabit Ethernet and high-performance parallel interface (HIPPI) chassis.

    Alternatively, Foundry Networks is already releasing a second version of the internetworking software that runs on its FastIron, NetIron, and TurboIron gigabit-speed gear. The latest version adds support for more popular network protocols, such as IP and IPX, as well as administration specifications such as DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), which offers automatic IP address assigning capabilities.

    Via the software, an administrator can also configure a department across several ports in a gigabit-speed switch, if necessary. That flexibility allows a network manager to increase the bandwidth needs of certain departments as required.

    These moves follow new enhancements last week from gigabit server connection player Alteon Networks. Gear from Rapid City Communications by Bay Networks has also found new life as part of the Accelar series of switching hardware.