Foundry Flashes New Hardware

Vendor unveils a raft of new switches at Interop, pushing 10-Gig port density and SSL

May 3, 2005

3 Min Read
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LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- After 15 months in the lab, Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) today unveiled its new RX family of chassis-based Layer 2 to Layer 3 switches and took the wraps off a range of new SSL VPN devices at Interop today.

The RX family includes the 4 rack-unit-high RX-4, the 7 rack-unit-high RX-8 and the top-end RX-16, which is 14 rack units high. The RX-4 is aimed at distribution switching and routing whereas the RX-8 is being touted as a technology for 10-Gbit/s aggregation and backbone routing. Up at the high-end, the RX-16 is targeted at the enterprise core and high-performance computing.

The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is adding the new boxes to its previous range of switches, namely the BigIron 4000, 8000, and 15000 devices, with the RX-16 usurping its existing high-end appliance, the MG-8.

The RX launch represents an overhaul of Foundry's core switching architecture. We haven’t had fully redundant switching fabric before,” says Bob Schiff, Foundry’s director of marketing.

It's a step in the right direction, says Stan Schuchart, senior analyst for enterprise infrastructure at Current Analysis. “They really didn’t have the redundancy story that they should have had, and the RX fixes that.”Other players already in the Layer 2-3 space include Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). At the high end, Foundry is locking horns with Force10 Networks Inc.

Specifically, Foundry is putting the RX-16 up against Force10’s Terascale E1200, which supports up to 672 Gigabit Ethernet ports, compared to 384 on Foundry’s new box (see Force10 Goes Terabit). The numbers play out differently when it comes to 10-Gbit/s links, though: The RX-16 supports up to 64 ports of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, compared to 56 on the E1200.

Schiff would not rule out the possibility of increasing the RX-16's Gigabit Ethernet port density. This could potentially be achieved by using RJ-21 style connectors, instead of the larger RJ-45 connectors. ”There are no firm plans. It’s something that we’re looking at,” he says.

With users increasingly looking to hook up more and more servers within their data centers, the major vendors are locked in a struggle for density bragging rights (see Force10 Does the Density Dance). But Schuchart points out that enterprises typically replace this type of hardware only every five to seven years, which means some Foundry users may have just missed out on a major upgrade.

“If I bought an MG-8 in the last 18 months then I would be a bit upset,” he says.Foundry also used the Las Vegas event to take the wraps off its new C-Series Layer 4 to Layer 7 SSL application switches and the ServerIron 350, a scaled-down version of its ServerIron 450 and 850 switches.

Measuring 2 rack units high, the C-Series boxes come in SSL and non-SSL versions. These include the CGX2, with 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the C2404, which offers 24 10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet ports and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. The CGC16 offers 16 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Last year a Heavy Reading report identified SSL VPNs as one of the hottest parts of the technology market, although Foundry faces some stiff competition in this space from established vendors such as F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV) and NetScaler Inc. (see Heavy Reading Analyzes SSL VPNs).

Foundry has used the C-Series box as the basis for the new 350 switch, which employs the same switching technology as the 450 and the 850. The 350's appeal lies in being smaller -- 2 rack units rather than 5 for the 450 or 12 for the 850 -- according to Schiff. This could prove particularly appealing in the space-constrained Japanese market, he says.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum0

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