Extreme Networks will release an upgraded management module for its BlackDiamond 6800 switches which, the company claims, supports instant fail-over and no downtime for software upgrades.
The higher level of reliability and availability in the MSM-3 software was designed for corporate Lans and metropolitan-area networks (Mans) that cannot afford any downtime, said Timon Sloane, director of product management at Extreme.
Robert Jacobs, director of network services at Phonoscope Communications, said the voice and data communications carrier has been testing MSM-3 on a BlackDiamond switch for two weeks with no problems.
"Our hot button was that there was a seamless upgrade, but also the fact that you get closer to 99.999% reliability," he said.
The greatest potential improvement, Jacobs noted, is that once the MSM-3 software is installed, code revisions and upgrades can be done without rebooting Extreme's switches. Previously, nodes on the Man that Phonoscope operates in the testing area had to be taken offline for three to five minutes to do upgrades.
"With our customer base, there's no good time for downtime, period. Even three minutes is unacceptable," he added.
Jacobs expected to buy and install the software on his switches by December.
Phonoscope, which has been an Extreme shop since 1999, operates a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network over nearly 40,000 miles of fibre.
Sloane said MSM-3's instant fail-over capability compares with a 12-second lag for redirecting network traffic to other switches with Extreme's existing software. The module has a list price of $13,995 (£8,756).
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group, said the software upgrade will keep Extreme on a technical par with rivals such as Foundry Networks and Enterasys Networks. All three companies are vying for business against switch market leader Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks.
Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld