High-end network switch vendor Force10 Networks Inc. hopes to move beyond the network core and into the data center with its first fixed-configuration switch.
The Force10 S50 switch, which will be launched Monday, provides 48 Gigabit Ethernet ports operating at line rate and two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Force10 brings to the switch its corelike performance and reliability for interconnecting servers.
The switching fabric in the one-rack unit switch supports an aggregate switching capacity of 192 gigabits per second. It can process 20 percent more traffic than competitive offerings, said Stephen Garrison, senior director of corporate marketing at the Milpitas, Calif., company.
“If you look at pure nonblocking throughput, it is faster,” said Zeus Kerravala, an industry analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. “I dont know of another product that has the same switching capacity [in that form factor],” he added.
The S50 is designed for high-density data-center environments that require greater simplicity and reliability. As many as eight of the switches can be stacked in a virtual cluster.
Resiliency features include support for multiple redundant paths through the network, preprovisioning, hot insertion and removal of stacked switches, and support for all three versions of the standard Layer 2 spanning tree protocol.
“We spent lot of time on the stability of the product. We brought some of the same techniques from the [chassis-based] E-Series to this smaller-form-factor product,” said Andrew Feldman, vice president of marketing at Force10 Networks.
Force10 hopes to compete with the likes of Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett Packard Co. and Foundry Networks Inc. by also offering more aggressive pricing.
The S50, due in April, starts at $8,000 for the base unit and $6,500 for the two-port, 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface.
But its not likely to help Force10 move beyond its high-end niche or installed base of customers, said Steven Schuchart Jr., senior analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va.
“Will they make a huge splash with this? I dont think so,” Schuchart said. “For customers whove enjoyed their Force10 equipment but needed something less expensive and with less capacity, this lets those customers continue with Force10 equipment.”