Novell Bolsters Caching Security and QoS

Novell Inc. shipped a version of its caching software last week that lets system administrators set policies to guarantee quality of service and speeds secure access to Internet content.

The company's Internet Caching System 1.3 (ICS) shipped last week to system OEMs for integration into servers and appliances. ICS 1.3 lets administrators authenticate users for access to Internet content and bandwidth, and encrypt, decrypt and accelerate Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) e-business transactions.

With the authentication capabilities of the RADIUS remote access standard and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, administrators can filter the content that is cached by user, content type or bandwidth percentage, and enforce QoS guarantees to customers. For instance, a school may want to guarantee that 75 percent of its Internet connections are reserved for students or that only teachers have unlimited access to Internet content.

ICS 1.3 also works with content-filtering programs from companies such as N2H2, Packeteer and Sitara. Novell is expected to announce partnerships with these companies in the near future.

ICS 1.3 is the first version that supports Novell's upcoming streaming-media and SSL modules.

The SSL module, code-named SSLizer, provides access, authentication and secure communications over the Internet, while regaining the speed lost by servers in processing transactions. SSLizer, a bolt-on software module to ICS, is expected to be released later this year. The 1.3 release also supports HTTP streaming, which handles large files on the Internet.

"Midsize businesses that are outsourcing their Web presence to a service provider are going to want to sell and track their businesses [using SSL] over the Web," says Mark Melenovsky, an analyst with market research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass. "SSL will be a huge boon for the modular [software] market that lets e-commerce take place."

IDC projects sales of caching appliances will increase fivefold to more than 100,000 by 2003.

"Large enterprises, which are keeping a lot of that Internet and Web-centric data in-house in their own data centers, represent a huge market for caching," Melenovsky says.

Novell has also done work in ICS 1.3 to improve the persistence of connections in reverse proxy mode, in which the caching system sits between a Web server and the Internet, filtering and speeding content delivery to users. ICS will also support the use of certificates for reverse proxy; if the user has been issued a certificate by a server that then fails, another caching server will maintain that certificate so it is not lost.

ICS 1.3 also supports Cisco's Web Cache Control Protocol, a Cisco routing protocol that lets the cache server communicate status back to a router and maintain cache transparency.

In addition, Novell has improved the FTP log push capability, which lets administrators more accurately monitor traffic passing through the caching server.

"Dell.com is a perfect example of the need for better logging," says Darrel Ward, product manager at Dell in Austin, Texas.

"We track the performance of Dell.com with logs, which report back traffic patterns. If you don't handle logs correctly, you won't have a clear picture of the traffic or business that flows through the site," he added.

Dell, Compaq and IBM will ship their appliances that include ICS 1.3 in September. Stratacache will immediately ship the ICS product with its caching devices.

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