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Foundry on the Switch Trail?

Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) looks as if it might follow wireline switch rivals Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) to move into the wireless LAN market with an 802.11-oriented product.

Foundry was playing its cards close to its vest when Unstrung called on Friday afternoon. "We are looking very carefully at the wireless market," says a company spokesperson who wouldn't comment further on product prospects.

However, industry observers think that it's only a matter of time before Foundry brings out a dedicated product for securing and managing 802.11 wireless LAN networks. The firm has already started to add access-point-friendly features like power-over-Ethernet (POE) to its latest wired offerings.

Meta Group Inc.'s Chris Kozup thinks the company will find it difficult to stay out of a market that its traditional rivals are already aiming to carve up among them. "I've heard rumors," says Kozup. "I think it is certainly likely -- they will be under a lot of pressure to do so."

George Prodan, senior VP of worldwide marketing at switch startup Trapeze Networks Inc. agrees. "They have to do something; they can't not do something… They have to protect their turf," he says.

Kozup reckons that Foundry will team up with another player or rebadge a product to offer its customers more WLAN management and security features.

Prodan, though, expects Foundry to keep product development in-house: "Bobby [Johnson, president and CEO] is one who will always first try to go it alone and bring forth a home-grown solution, so I would expect him to announce a strategy for wireless based on native Foundry equipment with new specialized software to be used in conjunction with others' access points."

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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