Content Delivery Traffic Relief Heralded

SAN MATEO (07/17/2000) - Attempting to add a much-needed kick to encryption processing and other performance draining connections, San Jose, Calif.-based Alteon WebSystems Inc. on Monday unveiled a Web switching and computing framework as well as devices designed to relieve strain put on servers by compute-intensive functions.

The Alteon iSD (integrated ServiceDirector) framework consists of the Alteon iSD-SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Accelerator and a hardware device called the iSD-Akamaizer, which automates the process of preparing content for Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies Inc.'s content delivery network. Both products are tightly integrated with Alteon's Web switches, which add processing power for increased scalability, according to Alteon officials.

To speed network performance, the iSD products siphon off specific compute-intensive functions and security packets out of the main data path and away from servers, which can become bogged down with security processing.

Because the iSDs are not located on the data path, they do not add additional latency to unrelated traffic, officials said.

"They are hanging [this product] off the end of the switch, so it doesn't' hinder any of the throughput of the switch itself and the scalability isn't impacted," said Eric Thompson, senior analyst at Gartner Group Inc. /Dataquest Inc., in Stamford, Conn.

The Alteon iSD-SSL accelerator, which takes on from servers the work of processing SSL handshakes, key exchanges, and encryption/decryption functions, is capable of scaling to Gigabit speeds, Alteon said.

According to Thompson, speeding up this security processing is key for e-businesses.

"[SSL acceleration] is really important to e-business because if you can speed the secure links up you will make customers a lot happier. It is a vital piece to e-commerce," Thompson said.

The Alteon iSD-Akamaizer, first announced late last month, automates the process of manipulating Web content for use in Akamai's global content delivery network. Currently this process of translating URLs to ARLs (Akamai Resource Locators) is performed manually or through the use of scripts that can consume processing power on Web servers or caches, according to Alteon.

The Alteon iSD-SSL accelerator and iSD-Akamaizer are currently in beta testing with volume shipments to begin in September. Pricing will range from $15,000 to $25,000.

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