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Box speeds SSL traffic, balances loads

Apr 07, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsNetwork Switches

Nauticus switch helps secure the data center

Managed security firm Guardent was looking for ways to beef up its services infrastructure, but wanted to do it without complicating its data center architecture.

After looking at load balancers and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL ) devices, Guardent tested a switch from start-up Nauticus Networks that combines traditional Layer 2 to Layer 3 switching with application-layer switching, and security features such as SSL acceleration.

Nauticus says its N2000 and N2000V intelligent switches will help customers reduce costs and improve data center performance.

The ability to combine functions in one device was something Bob Antia, vice president of quality and risk at Guardent in Waltham, Mass., was especially interested in.

“Combining [load balancing and SSL acceleration] in one box makes it easier to maintain and easier to operate,” he says. “And fewer components mean more reliability.”

Antia says he’s been impressed with the N2000, which has run highly secure applications without taking a hit on performance. Because of security issues, Antia wouldn’t specify how the switch is being used.

Competing products from companies such as Radware and F5 Networks, which offer load balancing and SSL acceleration in a single device, “don’t have the throughput that the Nauticus box has,” he says.

The switches run on Nauticus’ TideRunner chipset, built specifically to handle load balancing, SSL acceleration and virtualization, meaning the physical switch can be partitioned into multiple virtual switches. The switches sit behind a data center router and/or alongside existing firewalls.

Because all the processing is done in hardware, the switches can do application-level switching and packet inspection without taking a hit on performance, the company says.

“We have the ability to really secure your site without any loss of performance, which has been the bane of people using SSL. It’s very costly and very difficult to run. We solved many of those problems,” says Josh Weiss, president and CEO of Nauticus.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group, says the concept behind the Nauticus switches is sound, especially for companies in the healthcare and financial industries, where secure applications are widely used. But he questions whether they will have widespread appeal, especially with technology spending at a minimum these days. As for their virtualization capabilities, Kerravala suspects users might not yet be ready for such a drastic change in their data centers.

With the N2000V, companies can create virtual switches within one physical device. Each switch can have its own bandwidth, policies and management, and can be used to direct traffic to the most available server in a data center. Without virtual switches, companies would have to use separate load balancers or hardwire their architectures.

The N2000 and the N2000V come with two LAN configurations: 40 10/100M bit/sec ports plus four Gigabit Ethernet ports or with just 12 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The N2000V includes virtualization capabilities. Pricing starts at $25,000 for the N2000 and $35,000 for the N2000V.