Foundry Doubles Modular Switches Performance

The company also adds a new stackable form factor that provides a range of performance-boosting and security functions and increases the applications intelligence of its operating-system software.

Foundry Networks Inc. on Monday will try to leapfrog competitors in the Layer 4 through Layer 7 switching space when it launches new modular and stackable switches and operating-system enhancements.

Already known as the high-end alternative to Cisco Systems Inc. for Layer 4 through Layer 7 switching, the San Jose, Calif., company sought to raise the bar by doubling the performance and density of its existing modular switches, adding a new stackable form factor that provides a range of performance-boosting and security functions, and increasing the applications intelligence of its operating-system software.

The new ServerIron 450 and ServerIron 850 use next-generation processor technology and a new management module for high-performance load balancing, protection against denial of service attacks and intelligent application scanning and switching.

Both are designed to facilitate data-center consolidation and the adoption of blade servers. The ServerIron 450 can support as many as 48 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the ServerIron 850 can support as many as 112 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Both can accommodate a new 10 Gigabit Ethernet module providing one or two ports.

The new modular switches can handle as many as 4 million SYN packets in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The ServerIron 450 can handle as many as 160,000 Layer 4 connections per second, while the ServerIron 850 can handle as many as 320,000 Layer 4 connections per second, officials said.

"The performance increase has gotten us to a point where performance is equal across the board, so there isnt a single choke point. We know the application will stay online as long as the network is able to handle the traffic," said Foundry user Ted Smith, director of network operations at Web-hosting company Interland Inc. in Atlanta.

The new ServerIron GT stackables, available in four-port or 12-port configurations, are Foundrys attempt to carve out a new type of appliance that leverages the companys high-performance network processor technology. The ServerIron GT line combines integrated SSL termination and acceleration, a high-speed lookup engine that provides wire-speed security policy enforcement, denial of service attack mitigation and server load balancing.

The new operating-system release for Foundrys Layer 4 through Layer 7 switches adds integration with applications from vendors such as BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp., switches applications using the Financial Information Exchange protocol, controls spam through policy-based load balancing and secures Domain Name Services (DNS) servers.

It allows users to filter out undesired content and user requests and to match content based on user-defined rules to optimize server-farm utilization.

"That policy-based load balancing lets us create a list of known [spammers], send certain groups of people to different servers and our known customers to another set of servers. Thatll be key to keeping our mail servers running when new viruses come out," said Greg Conroy, network engineer at Interland.

"Thats more networking at the application layer instead of the network layer. If you want the market to grow, you have to appeal to a broader range of people," said Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst with Yankee Group, a Boston-based research firm. Yankee Group predicts that the $400 million market will grow to $1 billion by 2007.

The ServerIron 450 and 850 are due by the end of the month and are $34,995 and $38,995, respectively. The ServerIron GT is due this summer starting at $14,995.

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