New switch targets data center aggregation

Leveraging its success with Google and other high-profile customers, Force10 is launching a new 10 GigE data center aggregation switch that offers line rate switching at speeds up to 192 Gbps.

Hoping to capitalize on its success in the data center and a growing roster of high-profile clients, Force10 Networks

Inc. is introducing a new high-capacity aggregation switch.

The Milpitas, Calif.-based vendor is announcing the S50 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet fixed configuration switch. The device, which is designed to fit into a single data center rack, offers 48-port 10/100/1000 line rate switching at speeds up to 192 Gbps, plus a pair of optional 10 GigE uplink ports.

The product is intended for companies with three-tier data center architectures. While some businesses use a two-tier model to simplify topology, enterprises would use the S50 as the aggregation layer between servers or wiring closet devices and a core switch, saving on the cost of a more robust core switch by aggregating more nodes per link.

Stephen Garrison, senior director of corporate marketing for Force10, said the S50 is similar to and shares an operating system with the E series line of core switches, which the vendor introduced in 2001. He said the company moved deeper into the network to satisfy the demands of its core switch customers.

Garrison said the company moved deeper into the network to gain an advantage over companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. that don't offer end-to-end data center networking systems, and satisfy the demands of its core switch customers who wanted to acquire core and aggregation devices from a single vendor.

"With [HP's] ProCurve line, they have the 3400 edge products, but they don't have a core box," said Garrison, though HP does resell core switches from Foundry Networks Inc., and offers its own 9300m series modular routing switch. "Data center managers make their decisions in the core; HP is at a disadvantage there."

When the S50 is officially available next month, Garrison said it will go for $8,000, which is in line with competitors such as HP's 3400 series, Extreme Networks Inc.'s Summit 400 series and Foundry Networks' FESX448. The optional 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplink ports will tack on an additional $6,500.

Steven Schuchart, senior analyst for enterprise infrastructure with Sterling, Va.-based research firm Current Analysis, said the new S50 switch not only extends Force10's data center presence, but also meets the needs of its customers.

"Customers who enjoy Force10 equipment have had to go to another vendor to do things that the E300 is simply too big or expensive to do," Schuchart said. "If you're running Force10 switches in your data center, now you'll have essentially one neck to choke."

For more information

Learn more about Force10's switches in our Products of the Year feature.

Get expert advice on the advantage of 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Despite having just 275 employees, Force10 already has more than 100 core switch customers. They include IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., Dell Inc., MCI Corp., NASA and Google, which Garrison said is using its E series devices in all of its data centers around the world.

However, Schuchart said Force10 is known primarily as a high-performance switching vendor for niche industries like television production, geophysics, genetics and organizations utilizing Internet2, and doesn't have a sizable enterprise presence.

"In terms of the core switching, I haven't seen them out there a whole lot," he said. "Their huge selling point is ultimate speed and stability, and there are certain vertical markets that really bite on that, and frankly those are the only market they've gone after."

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