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Foundry Targets Midsize Switch Market

I tested a beta version of an SI 100 model 8GC02GF (eight gigabit copper ports, two gigabit fiber ports) in our Green Bay, Wis., Real-World Labs® and found it not only flexible in its deployment options but straightforward to configure and manage. The model I tested does not provide tristate support--the gigabit copper ports are gigabit only. If you need 10/100 support, check out the SI 100-2402, which offers 24 10/100 ports and two gigabit fiber uplinks. A third option, the SI 100-8G, provides eight gigabit fiber ports.

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Foundry will distribute the SI 100 series with the newest version of its OS, 8.1.00. The Cisco IOS-like CLI (command-line interface) provides a familiar environment for configuration and management. For those who prefer a GUI, the SI 100 also offers a robust, Web-based interface.

Attack of the Clones

I began with a Layer 4 HTTP load-balancing scenario, using Spirent Communications' WebReflector to emulate six Web servers. After configuring the first real server, I cloned it to configure the remaining real servers. This one-step process for adding new machines to the server farm not only saves time, it binds each real server to the appropriate virtual server.

Good
• Fixed-configuration bundles offer midmarket choices
• Competitive pricing
• Standard redundant power supplies
Bad

• Vague rule creation
• Rack hog: 5U chassis for limited port density (eight gigabit copper ports, two gigabit fiber ports)
• Gigabit copper ports are not tristate; GB connectivity only
Vendor Info
ServerIron 100 Series, starts at $34,995. Foundry Networks, (408) 586-1700. www.foundrynetworks.com

Content-aware switches typically require that at least one group be configured in a Layer 4 load-balancing scenario. SI 100 does not require any groups to be configured at Layer 4. Rather, binding all real servers to the virtual server eliminates the need to create a group. This makes it a breeze to configure a simple Layer 4 SLB (server load-balancer). Groups must be created for load-balancing at Layer 7 for both the SI 100 and competing switches. My only complaint is that groups are assigned numerical IDs and cannot be given descriptive names. I find it intuitive to use string-based names, such as "images" or "cgi_content."

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