Foundry Upgrades Switches

Operating system eases control of load balancers.

Foundry Networks Inc. will raise the bar for competitive server load balancing with the latest release of the operating system for its ServerIron Layer 4 to Layer 7 switches.

TrafficWorks Ironware Version 9.0, due in September, promises to boost performance, increase security, offload more server overhead and streamline administration of the load balancing switches.

The release adds XML tag switching to the load balancers, building on existing cookie and URL switching to enhance control of extranet traffic between enterprises and their suppliers or customers.

The software can also switch based on HTTP header information, allowing traffic from different languages, PDA devices or browser types to be funneled to servers.

In enhancing ServerIrons denial-of-service protection, the San Jose, Calif., vendor sped the load balancers processing of TCP Syn and ACK protocol handshakes to handle up to 1.5 million packets per second while switching real traffic. The feature is implemented in a new algorithm that exploits the load balancers fully programmable gate arrays to achieve such performance levels.

"Those are features wed deploy once we validate them in a test environment to help take the load off the firewalls," said ServerIron user Bryan Larrieu, vice president of voice, data communications and system security at CheckFree Corp., in Norcross, Ga.

To streamline configuration of the devices when using pairs of load balancers for high availability, Foundry added the ability to synchronize configurations. "We made configuration of pairs easier," said Chandra Kopparapu, vice president and general manager for service providers and multilayer switching at Foundry.

"You can go into synchronization prompt mode, so whatever commands you issue in one unit automatically go to the other box, or you can configure one unit to a known good state, then sync the configuration to the next unit. Or you can choose to sync a block of configurations," Kopparapu said.

"That ones a winner, and its something we asked for," said CheckFrees Larrieu. "Its a tremendous timesaver and gives us the high level of reliability we look for," he said. He lauded Foundrys move to certify the ServerIron software for interoperability with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.s NG firewalls.

The latest version of TrafficWorks Ironware also integrates with Foundrys IronView Network Manager, bringing new management capabilities to ServerIron devices. IronView Network Manager can now discover and monitor ServerIron devices as well as manage their configurations.