Foundry Networks gets edgy

Foundry Networks on Monday introduced a new family of Layer 2 edge switches for the wiring closet.

The new line of fixed switches, dubbed FastIron Edge, is non-modular and consists of the 2402, 4802, and 9604. The company claims that the FastIron Edge 9604 is the first non-chassis based switch to pack in 96 ports.

"Typically with 48 ports competitors go with a chassis," said Anthony James, product marketing manager for enterprise solutions at Foundry. "The 9604 is geared toward those who don't want a modular chassis and want to preserve rack space."

Compared to a standard 5 rack unit (RU) high 64 port chassis, the FastIron Edge 9604 is half the size -- 2.5 RUs. Additionally, the switch comes standard with four built-in Gigabit copper uplinks (1000Base-TX) as well as featuring dual redundant power supplies. Dual redundant power supplies, said James, is a departure from typical stackable switches as they are typically only found in chassis-based systems.

Foundry's FastIron family of switches can also be upgraded to Layer 3 switches by purchasing software that turns on the additional features, including access control lists, monitoring and rate limiting, multi-protocol routing, 802.1x authentication, and MAC-level security. Additionally, as Layer 3 switches, enterprises can do routing in the wiring closet in order to speed up VoIP (Voice over IP) and peer-to-peer applications, explained James.

Also standard on the FastIron Edge 2402 and 4802, like the 9604, is built-in 1000Base-TX support. According to James, competitive products require purchasing add-on modules in order to get 1000Base-TX. This includes Cisco Systems' Catalyst 3500 series line of switches, which can be augmented with hot-swappable, single-port modules.

Foundry believes that for customers that need 1000Base-TX connectivity herein lays their advantage over competitors on a cost-per-port basis even if when all said and done the savings is less than $100 per port on a 48 port switch.

"When we're talking about 3,500 ports -- every dollar makes a big difference," said Ken Cheng, vice president of marketing and product management at Foundry. Cheng explains that with the 9604, the costs saving is even greater given the fact it is not a chassis.

The FastIron Edge family also features a CLI (command line interface) that essentially mimics Cisco's CLI. Foundry hopes this will make it an easier decision for enterprises when selecting new switches, as the familiar CLI will eliminate the need for retraining. The FastIron Edge 2402 features 24 ports and the 4802 has 48 ports.

Additional features of the line include per-port network traffic monitoring via the company's proprietary ASICs dubbed JetCore and a common operating system image.

Cheng added that the company already has scored 12 customers for the FastIron Edge family in the medical, research, and university markets.

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