Foundry goes big with switches

Foundry launched its largest Ethernet switch to date at Interop last month, a 32-slot, 5.1 terabit-per-second Ethernet switch aimed at high-end data centres and campus LAN backbones.

Foundry’s the BigIron RX32 supports up to 128 line-rate 10Gbps Ethernet ports, or 768 10/100/1000Mbps ports, twice the number of its previous BigIron RX16, and more than double currently shipping high-end gear such as Force10’s TeraScale, Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 and Extreme’s BlackDiamond. Foundry also introduced TrafficWorks 10.0, which adds Web application firewall and spam filtering capabilities to the ServerIron 4G switch.

“Customers have come to us because, historically, because we’ve sold the biggest, baddest boxes,” says Foundry CEO Bobby Johnson, calling the RX32 the new head of the company’s high-end switch family.

Foundry says its RX32 could be used to collapse an entire LAN backbone or data centre into a single chassis. The device could also run in carrier metro Ethernet edge or core networks, aggregating Ethernet services from customers, or acting as a central hub for MPLS- or VLAN-based Ethernet VPN services.

At almost US$200,000 for just the RX32 chassis, the BigIron RX32’s market may be select, but it is growing, Johnson says.

“There are a lot of customers who do need this level of performance, scalability, and port density,” he says, such as large university backbones, enterprises involved with data mining, as well as government research laboratories involved in high-performance computing and clustering.

In courting theses types of customers with its new high-end switch, Foundry hopes to gain some headway in the 10Gbps Ethernet market, where it has fallen behind Cisco and Force10, according to research from the Dell’Oro Group.

“This product is a good solid step forward” for Foundry, says Tere’ Bracco, senior research director for enterprise at Current Analysis.

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