Foundry Networks Introduces the FES X424-POE Switch

The FES X424-POE combines 10/100/1000, PoE, 10GbE, redundant power, and broad phone compatibility in a compact form.

By Jeff Goldman | Posted Jan 5, 2006
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Last month, Foundry Networks announced the release of its new FastIron Edge X-Series 424-Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch, the FES X424-POE, which combines 24 ports of 10/100/1000 Mbps with IEEE 802.3af PoE, redundant modular power supplies, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). As the company's announcement puts it, the product "raises the VoIP convergence bar."

Val Oliva, Foundry's Product Line Director, says the key strength of the FES X424-POE is its unique combination of four features—10/100/1000, PoE, 10GbE and redundant power—in a compact form factor. "We want the enterprise customers to say, 'I want to force all my vendors to come up with innovation that would actually allow me to get a much higher return on investment,' " he says.

And for the FES X424-POE, Oliva says, that return on investment comes in the form of features like 10/100/1000 Mbps connections, which help to future-proof the product. "Network equipment deployments usually go from three to five years," he says. "So rather than investing in a backward technology such as 10/100, we're moving forward with 10/100/1000."

Key features
Because power supplies are usually the first things to fail, Oliva says, the FES X424-POE's redundant power supply is modular and replaceable. And one power supply alone can supply the maximum wattage the 802.3af [PoE] standard allows, 15.4 Watts, to all 24 ports. "You add one more power supply, and you have N+1 redundancy—you eliminate downtime because of any power supply failure," he says.

Another key feature—perhaps the product's simplest—is the inclusion of a PoE LED per port. "When you install this in, say, a wiring closet, at a glance, you can actually tell whether a port is giving out power; you don't have to push a knob or anything like that," Oliva says. "You can just look at the box and actually see that there's power being delivered out of that port. Think of it as an idiot light."

And for customers who want to future-proof their investment but also need to save as much money as possible up front, the FES X424-POE can be ordered without the 10GbE, allowing the customer to add it years later if they need to—presumably at a significant cost savings. "By next year, I won't be surprised if we see the price per port for 10GbE hitting close to $1,000, or even lower than that," Oliva says.

VoIP assets
The FES X424-POE, Oliva says, works well with every IP phone vendor out there. "We support the legacy Cisco IP phones, as well as all the well-known 802.3af standard-based IP phones that exist in the market," he says. "And that's important. Cisco claimed they shipped somewhere north of three million IP phones that are legacy, so the last thing you want to do is release a product that doesn't support them."

The product also includes sFlow for real time network monitoring of VoIP traffic with no impact on network performance. "Real time network monitoring is important with voice over IP, and you need a technology that allows you to monitor those packets in your network at the edge, not just at the core," Oliva says.

According to Oliva, all of Foundry's future products in this area should continue to include the four key features of the FES X424-POE—10/100/1000, PoE, 10GbE and redundant power. "We see this as an advanced, innovative and unique position for Foundry," he says. "If you look at the other competitors out there, none of them combine these four features together."

The FES X424-POE is shipping now, with list pricing starting at $6,995.

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