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IBM fends off network competitors

IBM tries to entice customers back to the company's networking fold with a barrage of new networking gear.

IBM (IBM) today added new networking gear to its product line in a bid to entice customers back from companies such as Cisco Systems.

In a significant step last year, the company refreshed a tired line of networking hardware and software, augmenting the gear by partnering with Xylan and Cascade Communications.

"We're continuing to deliver end-to-end networking solutions that no one else can provide with our hardware, software, and applications," said Jim Goethals, manager of enterprise solutions marketing for IBM.

By rolling out such a laundry list of products, Big Blue is focused on easing the migration of customers from old network technologies to new pipes, such as ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), according to Kishore Jotwani, IBM's ATM campus brand manager. IBM executives are confident that they can reclaim any momentum the networking hardware division has lost because of the sheer breadth of their product offerings.

As previously reported by CNET, elements of today's announcement include the following:

  • Super 8260, a new switch for ATM-based networks, and new wide area networking modules and adapter cards for the 8260 Nways Multiprotocol Switching Hub that includes a native ATM link. The new gear includes support for the emerging Private Network-to-Network Interface standard, which offers link management capabilities and facilitates use of local area network emulation.

  • Version 1.1 of IBM's Multiprotocol Switching Services server-based networking software for the 8210 and 8260 switches. The new version includes support for "Super VLANs" (virtual local area networks), which means the software can switch data in between virtual networks at faster transfer speeds. A virtual LAN is a workgroup of desktops and servers dedicated to one area of a corporation, such as human resources. It is not connected physically but is available to all relevant users as if the network were local. The latest version also includes support for Multiprotocol over ATM, a new ATM standard that allows data to bypass a router on the way to its destination if the router is overburdened with traffic.

  • A new 8276 Ethernet Routeport that when used in concert with IBM's Ethernet-based switches offers 36 ports of 10-mbps bandwidth to desktop users. The product, which acts as a hub, concentrator, and repeater, can be subdivided into four segments.

    Other aspects of the announcement include a new multiaccess feature for IBM's 3746 Nways Multiprotocol Controller 900 and 950 that adds native TCP/IP support to IBM legacy systems. The controller essentially serves as a traffic cop to and from an IBM mainframe system, capable of handling System Network Architecture, IP (Internet Protocol), and router-based traffic flows. A new version of the company's Nways Manager for Windows NT network management software package for IBM hardware was also released.

    The availability of these products--totalling more than 30, not including options--starts today and continues through the summer.