Bay Networks has announced new switching capabilities designed to optimise enterprise network traffic. The new Centillion switching architecture incorporates both LAN switches at Layer 2 - or the data link layer for client/server networks - and routing at Layer 3 - or the network layer that provides broadcast controls, WAN (wide-area network) access and bandwidth management. 'The intranet has grown faster than anyone predicted 12 months ago,' John Jaeger, Bay's director of switched Internet working product management, said. 'Before, there was an 80-20 router rule, which meant that 80 per cent of the traffic on a network was internal, which does not depend on routing technology. 'The Internet breaks that rule. There is a changed bandwidth pattern that makes current routing resources insufficient.' Bay's new Centillion switching architecture incorporates Layer 3 switching, IP (Internet protocol) multicast control, protocol-sensitive VLANs (virtual local-area networks) and integrated IP/ATM routing. Layer 3 switching forwards packets per port from one VLAN - a grouping of computers not necessarily connected through the same server (similar to a port-assignable, multi-channel hub) - to another VLAN. This technology is meant to augment router technology, speeding up transaction processing. Layer 2 only forwards packets within the same VLAN. Layer 3 switching, Mr Jaeger said, was extremely fast, bringing switching time down to 'tens of micro-seconds'. It is able to do this by focusing solely on IP switching, which is the protocol for the Internet and also the dominant protocol for intranet technology. 'Layer 3 switching automatically switches from one VLAN to another. Before you would have to go through a router,' Mr Jaeger said. 'Routers are still used for security such as firewalls, but within the enterprise network getting new applications directly truly augments the system.' The Centillion products are designed to work on Bay's System 5000 ATM backbone and Ethernet connection solution introduced earlier this year. Andy Ludwick, Bay's beleaguered chief executive, said that the next generation of technology will use this combination of routing and switching. He said Cisco's acquisition of Stratacom made its technology more likely to be proprietary and played into Bay's basis on open networks and standards. Bay is rapidly acquiring companies, has strategic partnerships with companies such as Lucent Technologies and spends 10 per cent, or US$250 million, revenue on R&D.