March 10, 1997 10:00 AM ET

IBM making the switch
Networking Hardware Division sets its sights on Nways management software, high-capacity 8260 hardware

By Paula Musich

  IBM's Networking Hardware Division is turning its sights to new network management software, as well as switch hardware, to give users more complete switching options.

Much of the division's planned spring product introductions will focus on new switches. However, key to this week's launch at CeBIT 97, in Hannover, Germany, are four new Windows-based members of IBM's family of Nways management software.

The software, designed for use with Windows 95 and Windows NT, simplifies configuration, installation and management of IBM's 8273/8274 LAN switches as well as LAN workgroups.

Nways RouteDirector Manager will provide management for new ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) cell switching modules for the 8274, planned for the third quarter.

A companion Nways RouteMonitor Manager for Windows 95/NT collects management data from multiple RouteSwitches in a network.

Meanwhile, a pair of Windows NT-based workgroup management applications-the Nways Workgroup Manager and Nways Remote Monitor-provides configuration, fault, performance, security and accounting management as well as remote monitoring based on the new RMON 2 standard.

"You need state-of-the-art network management to differentiate the hardware you're selling," said one source close to IBM.

The renewed customer focus in the Networking Hardware Division has begun to pay dividends for customers looking for more than just boxes, said industry analyst Frank Dzubeck, president of Washington-based Communications Network Architects.

"They're coming back because customers are looking for someone to take a lot of the burden off of them," Dzubeck said.

IBM in 1996 claimed the No. 2 position for switched ATM end-user revenues, with sales of $70.4 million, according to the Dell 'Oro Group, a market research company in Portola Valley, Calif. That represented 14.9 percent of the market, compared to Fore Systems Inc.'s $127.3 million and 27 percent market share. Cisco Systems Inc. took the No. 3 spot with 14.6 percent.

IBM also will preview at CeBIT new Java-based management applets for managing IBM networking devices from a Windows NT workstation. The applets, an extension of the Web-based management functions IBM already provides for its Multiprotocol Switched Services server, are intended to act as software-based probes for collecting management information and providing a first level of event correlation, according to sources close to IBM.

IBM also will preview a new Nways Traffic Monitor for AIX that adds the ability to provide application-layer monitoring of network traffic through new RMON 2 standard support. It will gather real-time and historical data on network and applications-layer traffic from RMON 2 probes, including those that already exist in IBM's 8250 and 8260 concentrators.

On the hardware side, IBM will build on its initial success with its ATM switching with the 8260 by adding a Super 8260 that incorporates two switching fabrics based on its scalable Prizma switching chip, including one fabric that can support an aggregate capacity of 12.8G bps.

The new nonblocking switching fabric will allow the 8260 to support a new four-port OC-3 module that is also nonblocking, as well as new OC-12 modules, said Michael Taddei, worldwide manager for LAN switching product marketing in Research Triangle Park, N.C. It is due in the fourth quarter.

IBM also will add in the fourth quarter wide-body models of the 8274 LAN RouteSwitch, based on the Xylan OmniSwitch, that will accommodate new higher port density modules-including new ATM cell switching modules.

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