Foundry Enhances Its Load-Balancing Software

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (06/02/2000) - This week, Foundry Networks Inc. announced a new version of its content-switching software that is designed to let users build more secure and manageable server load-balancing environments.

Foundry's Internet IronWare 7.0 runs on the company's ServerIron line of Internet traffic and content management switches. The software is designed to improve the function of these switches in enterprise, e-commerce and ISP sites.

Server load balancing and Web switching is an increasingly hot market thanks to the precision with which the switches can steer high volumes of 'Net traffic.

Cisco recently bought Web switch maker ArrowPoint for $6 billion, and several large vendors have partnered with F5 for load-balancing technology.

Analysts say Foundry's Internet IronWare 7.0 software enhances current security and management features of the ServerIron switches and fills gaps.

"There's a bunch of vendors in the market and none of them have a tendency to get three or six months ahead of anybody else in terms of features," says Mark Hoover, president of Acuitive, a market research and consulting firm. "At any point, you can point to a vendor and say, 'Here's something that nobody else has, and here are some things that are missing that other people have.' "Among the new features in the system's Internet IronWare 7.0 operating system is multizone firewall load balancing, which lets users deploy Web servers in previously unsecured areas. The software also features enhanced network address translation support, which is intended to preserve IP addresses and improve security for intranets and server farms.

Security has been an issue with ServerIrons. Earlier this year, Foundry issued a fix after a Bugtraq posting stated the firm's TCP/IP implementation made ServerIron switches susceptible to denial-of-service attacks. No users were affected by the glitch, Foundry says.

To help ensure that security never again becomes an issue, Foundry has added a feature called Secure Shell to Internet IronWare 7.0. Secure Shell access enables secure remote management of ServerIron switches, Foundry says.

Version 7.0 also has a feature called Slow Start that lets users add servers to the load-balancing pool online. The software also enhances the "content awareness" of ServerIrons so they can perform detailed content health checks on Web servers, and switch Web traffic based on URLs and cookies at the same time.

Lastly, Internet IronWare 7.0 lets users configure preferential intranet server sites for different branch offices. This is a specific enhancement for companies performing server load balancing on a global basis.

"Foundry is especially strong in what they call global load balancing," Acuitive's Hoover says. "The flexibility they give you in terms of deciding which subsets of the features to use and how they relate to one another is a little bit better" than competitive offerings.

Internet IronWare 7.0 is available free to all new and existing Foundry ServerIron customers.


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