Nortel Networks at NetWorld+Interop in Atlanta this week will improve the capability of its Contivity extranet switches to provide Internet-based virtual private network (VPN) services with hardware and software to enhance security and performance.
VPNs utilize the Internet to establish private network connections between remote and branch offices. Products in Nortel's announcement include an encryption and compression card, as well as a card that consolidates router and switch functions and a software upgrade extending public key infrastructure (PKI) support to VeriSign's PKI platform. Products are set to ship this fall.
Nortel's PCI card for encryption and compression is intended to offload these two functions from the main switch.
"We're adding a dedicated hardware processor to do specific tasks so we don't degrade the overall performance of the box," said Patrick Grillo, group manager of Nortel's Contivity marketing group.
Also due is a WAN card that allows a switch to connect to a WAN without requiring a device such as a router to supplement it, according to Grillo. The V.35 WAN card plugs into all three switches on the Contivity's PCI bus.
"The benefit is a single box in the branch office," Grillo said. "It's less expensive and easier to manage."
Nortel's upcoming release of its Contivity software, Version 2.6, adds support for VeriSign's PKI platform, enabling users to run the VeriSign system to authenticate users to a VPN. Currently, Contivity supports only Entrust's PKI system, Nortel officials said.