Nortel Enhances Networking Line

New offerings aim to improve security and resiliency of public Internet connections.

Nortel Networks on Tuesday launched another leg holding up its "One Network: A World of Choice" convergence strategy that is intended to minimize the impact of infrastructure boundaries on access to critical business data.

The Advanced Business Connectivity launch is about bringing the same security and resiliency to public Internet connections that enterprises are used to in traditional private Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) networks, according to Oscar Rodriguez, president and general manager of Nortels Enterprise Networks unit, in Atlanta.

"Whether youre on a PDA, PC, cell phone, landline phone, e-mail or what have you, that interaction should have the same user experience regardless of where you are in the network," he said.

To help achieve that vision, Nortel introduced five new or enhanced networking products that span multiple product families, including its Alteon, Passport and BayStack portfolios.

The new products are for the most part "matching product for product in a competitive response to Cisco," believes Joel Conover, industry analyst with Current Analysis Inc., in Green Bay, Wis.

The new Alteon Application Switch 2424 boosts the top end of its Layer 7 switching performance and marries security functions into a high-end applications switch. The new switch, due at the end of this month, uses an enhanced architecture that distributes processing and uses new application-specific integrated circuit processors to boost performance up to 51,000 Layer 7 packet inspections per second, according to Atul Bhatnagar, vice president and general manager of the Ethernet switching business, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Nortel also added a version of the new application switch that adds Secure Sockets Layer acceleration and SSL virtual private networking. The Alteon Application Switch 2424-SSL uses hardware-based SSL acceleration to "decrypt packets and invoke intelligent traffic management functions to match the right user to the right content," said Bhatnagar.

Users can provision SSL VPNs for secure access to e-mail, file sharing, Telnet and Web-based applications for mobile workers. The SSL version is due in April.

The SSL VPN capability is a "hot spot" among the new offerings believes Conover. "Its opening up the opportunity for new applications that are performance intensive. They are the only major, non-startup vendor to do this. Cisco has not indicated any plans for this market," he said.

Nortel also added a new SSL acceleration module for its Passport 8600 line of intelligent routing switches. The new Passport 8661 SSL Acceleration Module offloads SSL encryption from servers. It can process 3000 SSL transactions per second, and up to four modules can be installed in a single chassis to achieve rates of up to 12,000 SSL transactions per second.

The modules use a single system image, which is also used in discrete Nortel SSL appliances, so that a combination of both can be centrally managed as part of a cluster. This offering is due out by months end.

Nortel also rolled out a new line of Layer 3 aggregation switches intended for small to medium-sized enterprises. The new Passport 1600 line includes three different switches that provide a range of port densities and speeds. The Passport 1648T wiring closet switch provides 48 10/100 Ethernet ports and four Gigabit Ethernet ports for uplinks or server connections.

The Passport 1612G and Passport 1624G wiring closet and server aggregation switches provide 12 and 24 ports of Gigabit Ethernet. All three models in the Passport 1600 series support multiple routing protocols and incorporate Quality of Service traffic prioritization features. They are due in April.

Finally, Nortel announced the new BayStack 380 24-F data center aggregation switch, intended for small businesses. The switch, which uses all Gigabit Ethernet fiber ports, incorporates the BayStack automatic fail-over feature to insure service is not disrupted in the event of a network failure. It also supports QOS features that are simpler to configure thanks to graphical Wizards that walk users through provisioning. It also incorporates standard Layer 2 security features based on the Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 and IEEE 802.1x protocols. It is due in March.