Nortel spruces up Alteon offerings

Nortel Networks recently rolled out a pair of application switches, a hardware-based firewall and enhancements to its Alteon operating system and SSL VPN software, geared primarily towards mid-size businesses.

The Alteon Application Switch 2208 and 2216 help fill out the lower end of Nortel’s Application Switch portfolio – the next generation of the Alteon Web Switch. The boxes provide customers with server load balancing, security acceleration and bandwidth management features.

The 2208 sports eight 100Mbps Layer 4 to Layer 7 switch ports and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, while the 2216 boasts 16 100Mbps ports.

The dual uplink ports are an important feature, said Pat Patterson, director of product marketing for Alteon.

“Even though these were designed for the mid to lower end of the market, they still maintain the capability to maintain diversely redundant routes out of the box upstream,” he noted.

The 2208 lists at US$16,000 and the 2216 at US$20,500.

The new firewall, the Alteon Switched Firewall 5114, performs packet inspection at the edge of the networks of mid-sized businesses. The firewall can be deployed in “stealth mode”, so it shows no public IP address. This means hackers won’t be able to see the box and make it a focus of their attacks, said Diane Schmidt, director of product marketing for Nortel’s Ethernet switching business.

The firewall lists at US$16,000.

On the software front, the newly released Alteon OS 21.0 features more comprehensive denial of service protection and peer-to-peer inspection, which allows companies to classify, redirect and load balance applications such as Kazaa and Morpheus, so the applications don’t use up too much bandiwdth. The software also now enables Alteon boxes to load balance and inspect Web services traffic such as Simple Object Application Protocol and XML.

The latest version of Alteon’s SSL VPN software, version 4.1, includes support for User Datagram Protocol traffic and lets network managers set dynamic access policies, based on the user IP address or the strength of the authentication coming from the client.

“So for example you could give a minimum level of access to a legitimate user that’s logging in from an airport kiosk, but if they were logging in from their home machine they could get full access rights,” Schmidt said.

The software can also automatically log off machines which have been inactive for a certain period of time and clean up caches on client devices when they log off their sessions.

Care New England, a healthcare management firm that operates three hospitals in Rhode Island uses Nortel’s SSL VPN gear to ease the deployment of remote access applications.

“We were looking for a clientless (technology) for providing remote access,” said Howard Rubin, director of IS for Care New England. With the SSL VPNs, hospitals and doctors in remote offices can access e-mail and applications securely with a standard SSL-capable Web browser.

“We like this solution, because we don’t have to do anything on the client side,” he said.

The Alteon Operating System 21.0 with XML and SOAP switching capabilities costs about US$8,000. The VPN software ranges from US$10,000 for a 100-user system to US$40,000 for a 1,000-user system, plus hardware costs.

— with files from IDG News Service