Force10 Networks, Inc. has announced the extension of its S-Series access switch line with the introduction of the S60 top-of-rack (ToR) Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch. As the first switch purpose-built for dynamic virtualized data center environments, the S60 answers challenging application needs and lowers operational costs at the rack edge by leveraging new features and functionality, including ultra-deep buffering and "bare metal" auto-configuration, as well as proven Force10 product attributes, such as low power consumption and non-blocking, line-rate switching.

At the ToR, data center managers are increasingly dealing with unpredictable network traffic patterns driven by heavily virtualized multi-core servers running applications that are bursty in nature such as streaming and storage. These conditions cause network congestion at the I/O, which can result in dropped packets and high application latency.

"Virtualization and web 2.0 computing applications generate tremendous and unpredictable I/O traffic for today's data center networks," says Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president, Yankee Group. "With its deep heritage in serving high performance cluster computing and enterprise portal customers, Force10 has a keen understanding of this issue, and its innovative approach of using large, tunable buffers with the new S60 switch merits closer consideration for data center managers looking to improve performance and lower latency for these types of applications."

"Reliability and service availability requirements in today's data center are requiring line-rate performance at GbE where the vast majority of shipments are currently," says Cindy Borovick, research vice president, IDC. "Introducing a line-rate GbE top-of-rack switch with 10 GbE uplinks demonstrates that Force10 is committed to building a solution that leverages non-blocking, line-rate switching performance to solve network performance issues today, while including architectural features that provide investment protection that will continue to optimize data center network efficiency in the future."

Answering Data Center Challenges

To handle bursty network traffic at the ToR, and increase data center network performance, the S60 provides best-in-class, ultra-deep packet buffering of 1.25 GB - nearly 80 times the buffering capacity of the leading competitive product - and advanced buffer "tunability" via the Force10 Operating System software (FTOS). Coupled with its line-rate switching of 48 GbE ports and up to four optional 10 GbE uplinks in just 1-RU, the S60 is uniquely qualified for today's heavily virtualized data center environments.

In addition to increasing network performance, the S60 switch enables data-center managers to address other ToR key technology challenges, such as configuration flexibility, power and cooling efficiency, and reliability. For example, the S60 introduces the new "JumpStart" bare metal auto-configuration feature that simplifies ToR switch provisioning and helps customers drive standardization in their data centers by enabling the switch to be configured automatically, when it is first booted up, from a central database. Moreover, the S60 architecture supports the vertical or horizontal stacking of up to 12 units to optimize use of rack space, and provides front-to-back or back-to-front airflow, redundant hot- swappable AC or DC power supplies and an energy-efficient design to reduce power and cooling costs and increase network reliability.

Open Automation Ready

The S60 represents the first Force10 switch to ship automation-ready to scale and simplify the management and provisioning of complex virtualized data center environments. Open automation includes a suite of management and architectural tools that are part of Force10's recently announced Open Automation Framework, which promotes greater efficiency and agility within the data center. Together, automation tools and virtualization technologies provide the foundation for cloud environments, HPCC and enterprise portals to properly align compute resources with resource needs.

"With applications optimized to accommodate multimedia traffic and more enterprises planning virtualization rollouts, today's data centers battle unpredictable I/O with frequent bottlenecks at the rack edge," says Steve Garrison, vice president, marketing, Force10 Networks. "The S60 presents a game-changing opportunity for HPCC, cloud computing and portal environments to enjoy line-rate performance and predictable I/O that delivers the resiliency, flexibility and performance that data centers demand."