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Juniper jumps into Ethernet switch game

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Juniper Networks has finally decided to go after the Ethernet switch business. The routing specialist today unveiled a new line of Ethernet gear that will compete with Cisco and others. Juniper is so proud of the fresh systems that its entire homepage has been taken over with Ethernet marketing madness.

(Rather comically, we're told by one reader - bless you - that "The announcement of the new EX ethernet switch from juniper.net seems to have brought their webserver to a grinding halt." We're happy to report that all is resolved now though. Good switches.)

Juniper will sell the new gear under the EX-series brand and offer product that suits medium-sized companies up to the extremely large.

Juniper's switches come in three varieties: the EX 3200 series; the EX 4200; and the modular 8200 series. Each is built around the JunOS operating system, which the company uses for all its gear.

The EX 3200 are 1U fixed-configuration 1Gb/s Ethernet 24- or 48- port boxes, supporting power over Ethernet (PoE). Optional four-port 1Gb/s and two-port 10Gb/s modules with pluggable optics are also available. The switches will ship in March. Pricing starts at $4,000.

The EX 4200 uses a 1U chassis and comes in 24- and 48- port models. It supports PoE and has 1Gb/s and 10Gb/s Ethernet uplinks as well. Up to 10 EX 4200 switches can be connected over a 128Gb/s backplane. The switches also sport a 24-port fiber option. The switches will be available in March, with a price beginning at $6,000.

The EX 8200 switches are 10Gb/s Ethernet systems in a 21U form factor, and come in two configs: an eight-slot 1.6Tb chassis holding up to 64 ports; and a 16-slot 3.2Tb chassis with up to 128 ports. The company claims two fully-equipped 16-slot EX 8200 switches will deliver 256 wire-speed 10Gb/s Ethernet ports per rack. Juniper's big core switches are expected to be available in the second half of 2008. Pricing hasn't been announced yet.

The switches have network access control support (which Juniper calls Unified Access Control) for authorizing access to data through policies. Other security features include support for 802.1x, DHCP and ARP snooping.

Juniper's announcement comes just a day after Cisco unveiled its Nexus 7000 Ethernet switch. To compare sizes, two EX 8200 switches match the port count of the basic configuration of the Nexus 7000. What's important now is Juniper's asking price.

Although Juniper's small boxes will hit the market first, Juniper's big switch won't appear until the second half of year. Nexus will beat it to market with a second quarter arrival date. ®

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