Freeing Up the Network Bottlenecks

Nortel's Alteon Security Cluster targets firewalls and other security apps.

Nortel Networks Corp. last week unveiled a suite of products and services designed to increase the performance of corporate networks by eliminating the data bottleneck created by firewalls and other security applications.

Known collectively as the Alteon Security Cluster, the products include the Alteon Web Switch, Alteon Security Appliances and custom software. The suite is aimed at the data center market.

In a typical network, packets coming in from an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)-encrypted e-commerce transaction, for example, must first travel through the firewall, then to the SSL box for decryption and possibly on to an IDS (intrusion detection system), all before they reach their final destination.

Using Nortels new cluster, this process would only occur during the first such SSL session.

During that first session, the rule set and policies that are applied to the traffic are then written to the Nortel Accelerator. In each subsequent session, the Accelerator appliance applies the same rules to SSL traffic and prevents it from passing through any servers or applications unnecessarily.

The appliance can handle 3.2G bps of throughput on a network firewall and approximately 500,000 simultaneous connections.

"Most vendors just throw more processing power at this problem, which works, but its really expensive," said Marie Hattar, director of intelligent Internet security at Nortel, based in Brampton, Ontario.

Oscar Rodriguez, vice president for Nortels Metro Networks, said the new security offerings give users the ability to conduct secure transactions over the Internet with greater speed.

Private data can be protected with firewalls, which are critical for users with always-on connections, even as remote telecommuters connect to corporate networks via a virtual private network, Rodriguez said.

Nortel has partnered with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., of Redwood City, Calif., for firewalls and Internet Security Systems Inc., of Atlanta, for IDSes. The company is currently in talks with anti-virus vendors.

In related news, Nortel last week also filed to sell 1.9 million shares of Entrust Inc., a public-key infrastructure software and services vendor in Plano, Texas. Nortel formed Entrust in 1997 as a subsidiary and later spun it off as an independent company.