Intel increases network focus

Intel increases network focus

The products Intel will announce at its Developer Forum should clear up any doubts the company is becoming a network force to be reckoned with.

Ripe with acquired and home-grown technology, the company will announce communications products for switching and traffic load balancing dubbed NetStructure, specifically designed to address the hassles faced by companies trying to integrate e-commerce traffic management into their networks. The announcements will be part of a broad product rollout, according to sources close to Intel. Intel declined to comment on the announcements.

The new line of communications products will include the NetStructure e-Commerce Accelerator 7110 and a family of devices called NetStructure Traffic Directors. The boxes are designed to speed e-commerce transactions and be easy for network professionals to install. The e-Commerce Accelerator is at least in part derived from technology Intel obtained through its $US500 million purchase of Ipivot last fall.

The e-Commerce Accelerator 7110 serves as an encryption/decryption device used to process secure transaction requests. The device sits on the network between a front-end server and back-end host and will be able to handle as many as 1000 secure transactions per second.

The box works with most major Web servers, including Apache, and those from Microsoft and the Sun/ Netscape Alliance. A key feature will be technology that allows the device to offload cryptographic-related processing for secure transaction requests that would otherwise be processed on a Web server. The idea is to speed up overall transaction time.

The NetStructure Traffic Director includes three models: the 7140, 7170 and 7190. The 7140 addresses Layer 4 traffic management issues, using response times to balance traffic loads between servers. Network managers can set priorities for requests, including e-commerce transactions. This device could sit between a router and server farm.

The 7170 uses Layer 7 application-specific switching to prioritise requests based on user profiles and URL addresses. The 7190 MultiSite Director allows companies with e-commerce servers in different locations to send requests to whichever server location can process the transaction most efficiently.

Sources say the traffic control and security features of the Traffic Director and e-Commerce Accelerator products may also be added to Intel's existing Layer 2/3 Express 6000 switch - a device aimed at the large enterprise, according to one source close to Intel.

As part of this announcement, Intel also plans to trot out a bevy of network companies supporting its Intel Exchange Architecture (IX). The architecture, for which Intel set up a $US200 million investment fund in September 1999, defines reprogrammable silicon for use in network devices such as routers and is based on open standards.

Supporters of IX include Cisco and 11 other vendors. Sources close to Intel say at least a dozen others will be added to the list this week, but Intel declines to name those vendors.

The Internet is exactly why Intel is choosing to place so much emphasis on - and so much money into - network gear, according to a spokesman for Intel. His assessment that the Intel Developer Forum, "is becoming a place for networking" is an understatement, given the past year of Intel network-related announcements.

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