Array Boosts OS Cache Flow

Upgraded operating system gives network device better performance, tighter security.

Array Networks Inc., a startup combining multiple IP services in a single network device, is beefing up its caching performance and adding new security features to its latest release.

Array, of Campbell, Calif., next week will ship Version 3.1 of its operating system for its Array Web traffic manager platforms. The new version includes SpeedCache technology for Arrays caching services that officials said will increase cache utilization by as much as 50 percent and reduce loads on back-end servers.

The upgrade also incorporates greater SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) features—what Array is calling "SSL on the inside"—by adding encryption on traffic flowing from an Array device to the origin server and not just to outside connections, said Steve Shah, director of product management for Array.

Array first launched its devices in September last year. They come in two models, the Array 500 and 1000, and provide as many as seven IP services: Layer 4-to-Layer 7 load balancing, a Webwall firewall, SSL acceleration, caching, content rewrite, clustering and global server load balancing.

"It was compelling for us to see a product with all those features in one unit," said Rino Ong, a system architect at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The registrars office at the university started using the Array devices last December for load balancing and SSL acceleration. Now, Ong plans to add caching to help speed the delivery of information as students begin registering for classes online. The latest operating system release from Array should help improve caching, Ong said. "Now theres a lot more smarts to it," he said.

Along with improved caching and new SSL features, Version 3.1 provides a new Web-based user interface called the Array Pilot for managing the devices and an API into the devices for the integration of third-party applications.

Arrays latest enhancements come as competition is increasing for all-in-one networking devices. Other start-ups, such as Nauticus Networks Inc. and Inkra Networks Corp., have announced switches that combine multiple IP services such as load balancing and SSL acceleration. In addition, vendors with formerly single-service devices, such as F5 Networks Inc. with its load balancing products and CacheFlow Inc. with its caching offerings, have been expanding the number of services offered in their devices.

Arrays Shah said that one difference with Arrays devices is that they combine IP services in such a way that IP packets must only travel the TCP/IP stack once for all the networking functions, rather than repeating the process, as often is the case in other combined products. Called Speed Stack, the technology improves performance by reducing processing time, he said.

The Array 500 is shipped standard with server load balancing, the firewall and clustering and starts at $3,995. The Array 1000, which provides greater performance than the 500, comes standard with server load balancing, the firewall, clustering and caching and starts at $14,995. Customers can turn on additional features for an added cost.

Beyond its operating system enhancements, however, Array has turned its attention to the security of Web services and applications. Late last month, the company launched the Array SP (Security Proxy) for policing of Web traffic. It provides a single view of Web services by providing an identical URL, authentication process and view of applications whether a user is coming from the Internet or over a corporate network, officials said. Among its other features are SSL acceleration, 128-bit encryption, security accounting, its Webwall firewall and clustering of up to 32 Array SPs.