Foundry Networks Inc. has introduced software for running and managing its switch family, as well as a new gigabit module for tying switches to a corporate backbone.

Foundry’s IronView II software is intended to let Foundry switch users more easily manage their switch configurations. The product is Foundry’s first comprehensive management tool for its switches, which, one analyst said, has been a long time coming.

The IronView II software is a set of management tools for virtual LANs, access control lists (ACL), switch management and configuration, as well as an event manager. The software lets users group configurations of switches through a drag-and-drop Web interface.

By using IronView II’s ACL manager in conjunction with the new firmware on Foundry’s switches, network managers can use ACLs to manage user access to network resources and software at Layer 2 wiring closet switches, said Val Oliva, Foundry’s Layer 2/Layer 3 product manager.

“Normally, you need a router to do access control lists,” Oliva said. The new firmware allows Layer 2 switches to interpret ACL information sent from an IronView II server and apply the corresponding rules to users attached to the switch. Enforcing ACLs at the wiring closet instead of a core router of backbone switch can ease backbone congestion, Oliva said, adding that users don’t have to upgrade their wiring closets with Layer 3 switches.

New features in Foundry’s IronWare 7.2 firmware include 802.1ad link aggregation support for link redundancy. Also, 802.1w rapid spanning tree protocol is included for providing recovery from a network outage.

The features promised in IronView II should help Foundry’s overall enterprise switch business, which has been slacking, analysts say.

“The management application is killer for Foundry,” said Joel Conover of Current Analysis Inc. “In order for Foundry to make a new play in the enterprise market, this was something they needed to do.”

IronView II should help Foundry play catch-up with competitors, such as Enterasys and Cisco, which have had their own network management software for some time, he said.

While IronView II addresses enterprise customers, Conover says the fault tolerance and fast spanning tree features in Foundry’s new firmware are geared more toward metropolitan service providers.

“These are areas that might be attractive to service customers who are not typical Foundry service providers, such as metro-area providers,” he said.

Foundry also announced a new MiniGBIC (Gigabit Interface Connector) module and management module – its first GBIC – for connecting its switches to a backbone via gigabit Ethernet. The module allows for up to eight gigabit Ethernet ports per slot. The management module is a switch processing blade that provides intelligence for Foundry switches and has an integrated eight-port MiniGBIC.

The MiniGBIC module and management module are available now and cost US$8,500 and US$12,500, respectively. Foundry IronView II will be available this month. Pricing was not available at press time. IronWare 7.2 is available for free to Foundry customers with support contracts. For more information, see the company on the Web at