Top Layer

Top Layer Networks recently announced that it will soon be releasing a PCI Card set that will enable servers to analyze data flows at the application level of the OSI stack.

According to Barry Spinney, CTO and founder of Westboro, Mass.-based Top Layer, the new PCI Card set will have the same capabilities as the AppSwitch, one of the company’s feature products.

Spinney said the PCI Card set and the AppSwitch have the same technology and the same features, but would be used in different areas.

“The PCI Card set is taking our rack-mountable switch and reducing it to go into servers,” Spinney said.

Spinney said that analyzing data at the application level is critical to giving administrators a better understanding of what specific applications are crossing their networks. He said Top Layer has come up with a general approach that allows the PCI Card set to go into the application layer and enable administrators to manage bandwidth and enforce security policies.

Spinney said that a common problem for network administrators is in the Quality of Service space where “basically the low-priority, non-mission-critical traffic is clogging up the extensive WAN pipe. People use our product (PCI Card set) to recognize the applications and the users and appropriately determine that mission-critical traffic takes a higher priority (on the) network.”

He added that another issue for network operators is security. “By going into the application layer, we are able to determine what the user is doing to the network, and prevent hacker (intrusions), malicious use and unauthorized use of the network.”

According to Cindy Borovick, program manager and analyst for IDC in Framingham, Mass., analysing data at the application level is the next step in networking.

“We now live in a network world, and servers are not traditionally very good at doing networking,” she said. “You need to make sure that the Web server performs in the fastest way possible and that content is distributed to the end users in the most efficient manner. Application-level switches provide you with enhanced performance of your Web server infrastructure.”

Borovick said that with more mission-critical applications being built on the Web, servers need to develop the communications infrastructure in order to make it reliable and scalable.

“I think as far as Top Layer’s concerned, the PCI Card set is an interesting strategy,” Borovick said. “It will certainly help each individual server in terms of reliability and scalability.”

Top Layer said the PCI Card set will likely be bundled as part of a package offering. Spinney added that it will be tailored around the actual application solution package that it is bundled with.

“In many cases where we are trying to put these solutions, space, power and cost are all issues,” Spinney said. “The PCI Card set basically allows us to take our existing technology and, because it’s not even a rack, it takes less power, less space and there is less cost because it’s built into the server itself.”

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