Foundry Networks has launched a broadside of products aimed at the whole networking industry, with big switches aimed at taking Cisco's core business, a switch intended to displace appliances by the likes of F5, and a security-enabled workgroup switch with a bundled intrusion prevention system (IPS)

The BigIron RX series (which was given an award at Interop) is Foundry's Cisco-killer. Ready for the as-yet-undefined 100 Gbit/s Ethernet standard, the service-provider version of the same chassis (under the NetIron brand) has more 10G Ethernet ports than the competition, at 1/20th the price, says Foundry's Bob Schiff, Foundry vice president.

"We have introduced a new family, because we want to bring the battle to Cisco and Juniper, said Schiff. The incumbent vendors are exploiting their market share and charging margins that are too high, he said.

The BigIron RX can fit 192 10G ports in one 7ft rack, and comes with both IPv4 or IPv6 - which both run at wire speed. The BigIron RX-16 chassis can take two rows of eight half-high blades, each of which can have up to four 10 Gbit/s ports, or 24 Gigabit ports, making up to 64 10G ports, or 192 Gigabit ports per system.

When the 100G standard arrives, a divider can be taken out, leaving a system with eight full-height slots, which will each provide one 100G connection, promised Schiff.

Setting its sights lower, Foundry is having a go at the likes of F5 and RadWare, who make convenient appliances that process network traffic. The ServerIron GT is a 2U high appliance that puts a higher-power Layer7 switch into the same size-and-price bracket as those appliances.

"Those appliances are small and cheap, and seen as performing 'well enough'" said Schiff. "However, if the customer outgrows them, the only way to get higher performance is to swap out the box." The ServerIron GT switches start at $15,995, and for an extra $2000, Foundry includes SSL acceleration. Blades and management modules can be upgraded.

The SSL accelerator is now Foundry's own blade, to go into the ServerIron switch, rather than the third-party appliance which Foundry previously re-sold form another supplier.

Finally, Foundry is adding a new kind of switch: the SecureIron LAN Switch is a LAN switch with a seven-layer intrusion protection system (IPS) security system built in. "You can use it in place of a Layer 3 switch and an IPS," said Schiff, suggesting that users might invest in them for their more confidential workgroups.

The 48 port version starts at $16,495, which Schiff says is a $5000 to $10,000 premium over a comparable LAN switch. "If the customer has an IPS, they may not need this," acknowledged Schiff.

A SecureIron version without the switch is also available, intended as a load balancer between firewalls.