Foundry Networks on July 17 will try to raise the bar on voice-over-IP-ready network switches when it debuts its third generation of chassis switches built for VOIP and wireless traffic.
Foundry is claiming the highest Power over Ethernet density in its new FastIron SX 800 and FastIron SX 1600 8- and 16-slot switches.
The FastIron SX 1600 provides up to 384 Gigabit Ethernet POE ports with a redundant power supply.
As VOIP gains mainstream status and enterprises engage in either planning or implementation activities, Foundry sought in its third-generation VOIP switches to simplify the upgrade path to POE for users.
Although the chassis switches support a mix of fiber and copper connectivity, their 24-port 10/100/1000 copper module can be upgraded to support POE via a single $500 daughter card. The daughter card will provide POE to all 24 ports.
That capability sets Foundry apart, said senior analyst Steven Schuchart Jr., with Current Analysis in Sterling, Va.
"You can just pull the blade, add the daughter card and stick it back in it. You can probably do it without unplugging everything as well. Before this, you had to pull out the old card (and replace it with another) to add POE.
"The real value is being able to keep the value of your current card, spend a little on an upgrade and there you are," he said.
The 16-slot chassis includes independent power supplies for the system and for POE, and it supports a redundant power supply.
Up to three power supplies can support 384 Class 3 POE ports. To ensure high availability, both the 8- and 16-slot chassis support redundant management modules and a redundant switch fabric.
Foundry chose to provide Class 3 POE at 15.4 watts to ensure that enough power is available to IP phones or other power-drawing after power loss occurs on the wire.
"No one is educating people about the power loss incurred from the wire. The IEEE designated that the maximum power loss for the wire is 3 watts," said Val Oliva, director of product management for Foundrys enterprise product business unit in Santa Clara, Calif.
"A [VOIP] phone requires between 7 to 12 watts. So IT managers planning for POE need to make sure each POE port supports power from 10 to 15 watts [to be able to] power simple a IP phone or one with a lot of [features]," he said.
Schuchart is not convinced theres an issue there, however. "I havent heard anybody talk about that issue. I dont think anybody has a device that needs 15.4 watts. Devices that are Class 3 [POE] will ask for 15.4 watts, but thats not their peak draw," he said.
The switches, which can also be used to power wireless Access Points or video over IP cameras, in software support Border Gateway Protocol, dynamic voice VLAN configurations, SFlow for network traffic accounting and prioritization as well as security functions such as IP source guard, dynamic Address Resolution Protocol inspection and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol snooping.
They also support 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks and a range of existing IP phones, including Cisco legacy pre-standard IP phones.
The FastIron 1600 for core network use can support up to 36 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The new switches are available now.