B.C. firm’s tools may be in your nertwork appliance

There may be a bit of British Columbia hiding in your network equipment.

It comes from Vineyard Networks Inc. of Kelowna, which has been quietly licencing its Network Application Visibility Layer (NAVL) application classification engine and Network Reporting Centre (NRC) performance reporting software to a number of network security equipment makers, service providers and enterprises.

With the release of NAVL v. 2.7, which ups throughput to 10 Gigabits per second on x86 hardware and hike the number of applications it can identify, the company wants its brand and technology better known.

“Today through our technology partner program, NAVL sits in over 100,000 gateway devices worldwide,” CEO and founder Jason Richards said in an interview.

“Application awareness is so critical, he said. “You need to know first what’s there [on the network] before you can monitor it, secure it, optimize it, traffic shape it,”

On the other hand he isn’t prepared to identify all of the manufacturers that use NAVL, which classifies Layer 7 traffic so next generation firewalls can apply security policies.

Germany’s Astaro GmbH, which makes the Astaro Security Gateway will add NAVL to the products v.8.200 software upgrade within the next two months, said a company official. Cymtec Systems Inc., of St. Louis, Mo., is about to add NAVL capability to its Scout hosted intrusion detection service. Other NAVL customers haven’t given permission to be identified, Richards said.

NRC pulls detailed data on network use at the application layer from NAVL as well as from Netflow.

Partners who have adopted it include Exinda Networks Inc., which offers the application as an option for processing application data pulled from its WAN optimization appliances, and Blue Coat Systems Inc.’s PacketShaper, which can use NRC for reading flow data.

Coming soon is NRC support for Cisco System Inc.’s NBAR application classification data, Richards said.

NRC is also being used by service providers such as France Telecom’s Orange, Canadian public school libraries and some oil and natural gas producers in Alberta and B.C., Richards said.

NAVL competes with other third party application classification engines such as iPoque’s Protocol and Application Classification Engine (PACE) which is used by Cymtec.

A sign of how competitive the market is — and the challenges Vineyard faces — is Exinda’s view of its products. Kevin Suitor, Exinda’s vice-president of marketing, calls the Canadian company’s NRC a “best in class” reporting engine with a rich development environment customers like for building dashboards. However, he added NAVL doesn’t recognize as many applications as PACE does, so Exinda hasn’t adopted that product.

Cymtec CEO Andrew Rubin said his company will add NAVL capability to the Scout cloud service in an upcoming software release. “Customer demand for Layer 7 application awareness is enormous and growing,” he said in an interview explaining why the company became interested in Vineyard. It already uses a malware detection engine from Sourcefire Inc., but found NAVL added incremental security.

Application awareness will give a “wow” factor to sales pitches, he predicts.

Greg Young, Gartner’s Ottawa-based research vice-president for network security, said the increasing use of compressed and encrypted data has led to so-called next generation network firewalls that have application inspection. NAVL and other third party suppliers would be a boon to firewall makers who don’t have the capability already, he said.

Vineyard has its roots in a Canadian application acceleration startup that includes Richards which was bought about a decade ago to Packeteer Inc., a maker of WAN traffic prioritization appliances. In 2008 it was bought by Blue Coat Systems.

Soon Richards and a group of Canadians began talking about creating a new application. With the help of a grant from the National Research Council’s industrial research program 10 of the expats moved to Kelowna to start Vineyard. It now has a staff of 21.

NAVL is aimed at makers of next generation network firewalls, universal threat management appliances, application delivery controllers and WAN optimization equipment manufacturers. It uses a combination of deep packet inspection, behavioural inspection, protocol dissection, and heuristic analysis to classify application signatures.

NRC is a tool for end users which can easily pull network performance data together from NAVL and other sources, Richards said.

Vineyard even offers a hosted version called NRC on Demand, for organizations with more than one NAVL-enabled device.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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