Nauticus to Combine Load Balancing, SSL

A networking startup wants to make deploying Internet applications easier by combining load balancing and SSL in a single switch.

A networking startup wants to make deploying Internet applications easier by combining load balancing and SSL in a single switch.

Nauticus Networks Inc. this week will announce its plan to develop a series of application switches that combine load balancing and Secure Sockets Layer technologies in hardware and later add such other network services as caching. The first switch, a two-rack unit called the 2000 series, should be in beta testing this summer.

While other networking vendors, including Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd. and F5 Networks Inc., have combined load balancing with SSL in software, Nauticus executives said their company is the first to combine them in hardware, which can improve the performance at a lower cost. They declined to provide specific pricing details for the yet-to-be-released product.

Today, most enterprises deploy a mishmash of separate hardware and software to handle switching, SSL and load balancing. That commonly includes a data and network layer switch, along with a separate load balancer appliance or software and SSL within another network appliance or through software on their Web or application servers.

Combining all that into a single switch could benefit potential customers such as Jothy Rosenberg, chief technology officer and co-founder of digital certificate authority GeoTrust Inc. Rosenberg wants to reduce the number of devices on his companys networks to have fewer points of failure and to reduce support costs.

Nauticus approach should help Rosenberg handle an ever-increasing amount of SSL traffic coming from, among other places, customers online orders and Geo-Trusts online service that verifies a Web sites identity.

"Everybody has realized that they need to use SSL, so its creating a concern of [whether] the performance of SSL will be good enough," said Rosenberg, in Wellesley Hills, Mass. "Along comes Nauticus with a [switch] that understands SSL. I cant wait to get my hands on it."

Because it is so much faster in hardware than in software, the Nauticus switch "would save me from having to buy so many servers and having a performance bottleneck," Rosenberg said.

Nauticus application switches will be able to handle tens of thousands of SSL connections per second, compared with the hundreds of connections per second supported by current solutions, according to Nauticus officials in Framingham, Mass.

Nauticus, founded in October 2000, has received $33.5 million in funding to date and has about 70 employees.