Foundry Bulks Up Its Backbone Switch

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (04/18/2000) - Foundry Networks Inc. this week will expand its product portfolio with new offerings targeted at Layers 2 and 3 switching, Internet traffic management and core routing markets.

The products include extensions to three of Foundry's routing and switching hardware lines: BigIron, ServerIron and NetIron. They are designed to enable users to attach more devices to and increase the speed of their networks, as well as simplify network design.

"They'll have a very competitive offering if they can deliver on everything they're talking about," says Esmeralda Silva, an analyst with market research firm IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts.

What they're talking about for enterprise users is the BigIron 15000, a 15-slot version of the company's backbone switch for Layers 2 and 3. With 120 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a forwarding rate of 178 million packets per second, the BigIron 15000 almost doubles the port density and performance of Foundry's previous high-end offering, the eight-slot BigIron 8000.

Along with the BigIron 15000, Foundry introduced its first Gigabit Interface Connector (GBIC)-based port module. GBICs allow users to easily swap connectors when they want to increase or decrease the distance between switches.

The eight-port GBIC module for the BigIron line sports 1000Base-SX, 1000Base-LX and 1000Base-LH fiber optic connectors that support distances from 550 meters to 150 kilometers.

For service providers, Foundry unveiled the NetIron 1500 Internet core router and two modular versions of its ServerIron load-balancing switch. The NetIron 1500 is a 15-slot version of Foundry's recent entries into Internet core routing, the four- and eight-slot NetIron 400 and 800.

With the NetIron 1500 rollout, Foundry dropped the price of its Packet Over SONET modules by 40 percent. IDC's Silva says Foundry's pricing is well below that of Internet routing competitors Cisco and Juniper, but that alone won't be enough to help Foundry make sizable gains in that market.

Foundry also introduced the four-slot ServerIron 400 and eight-slot ServerIron 800 chassis for server load balancing and Layer 4 to Layer 7 switching. They join the existing ServerIron XL, ServerIron XL/G and BigServerIron platforms.

Whereas those platforms support Layer 2 and Layer 4 to Layer 7 switching, the new ServerIron 400 and 800 add Layer 3 switching, or routing, to the mix. This simplifies network design for users because the dual ServerIron 400s or 800s can be used in place of what Foundry calls a "six-pack" redundant server load-balancing configuration: Two Layer 2 switches, two server load balancers and two routers.

Efficient packaging is really what the ServerIron 400 and 800 are all about.

They are composed of existing BigIron chassis with a new five-processor Web Switching Management Module.

Foundry claims the ServerIron 400 and 800 support 16 times as many sessions, and seven times as many Gigabit Ethernet and 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet ports as existing ServerIron platforms, and have a 28-fold increase in performance above those platforms.

The BigIron 15000 chassis costs $17,500 and will ship in September. The GBIC module costs $17,000 and will ship in July. GBIC connectors cost $500 for 1000Base-SX and $1,000 for 1000Base-LX and ship in July. The NetIron 1500 costs from $39,500 to $44,000 and ships this summer. ServerIron 400 costs $25,000 and ServerIron 800 costs $30,000.


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