Silver Peak unveils security roadmap for WAN gear

Silver Peak is introducing a security roadmap for its WAN acceleration gear that, when implemented, will not only make traffic between corporate sites more secure but also will speed up SSL transactions. The company is also introducing a new appliance that tops the speed of its current flagship device.

The new security scheme, called Secure Content Architecture, includes current capabilities such as encryption of data that is stored on Silver Peak appliances and that could otherwise represent a security weakness. It also includes future capabilities, key among them being support for SSL encryption.

Silver Peak devices sit at either end of WAN connections and use multiple means to reduce the amount of traffic that has to cross the link. This includes storing chunks of data on the disks of local Silver Peak machines. Rather than sending these chunks each time they are needed, the remote Silver Peak device sends a brief reference pointer rather than the chunks themselves.

When these blocks of data are stored to the disk on Silver Peak machines, they are encrypted. If left unencrypted, this data could be compromised if someone stole the machine, says Rob Whiteley, an analyst with Forrester Research.

The company says it plans to support SSL termination and initiation to further secure and speed traffic. This would enable to devices to set up SSL sessions across the wide area link, but will also be able to terminate the proxy SSL sessions that arrive at the boxes.

Currently many applications such as SAP and Siebel are sent from desktops to servers via SSL sessions. These encrypted sessions cannot be compressed because compression devices cannot see the packet payloads. With support for SSL, Silver Peak devices can terminate these sessions, compress the traffic then send it along via a new SSL session.

This can dramatically improve the performance of WAN links where SSL traffic represent a high percentage of total traffic, Whitely says. Blue Coat Systems has this capability, but other vendors such as Cisco, Expand, Juniper and Riverbed do not, he says.

Silver peak is also introducing its fastest model, NX-8500, that has a top speed of 500Mbps with all its features turned on and 800Mbps if it is only optimizing TCP sessions for higher throughput. Its former fast box, NX-7500, supported 155Mbps and 800Mbps, respectively.

NX-8500 is available in the fourth quarter of this year and costs US$130,000.

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