TippingPoint IPS Goes 10 Gig

Gigabit network security bandwidth

On Monday, TippingPoint, the security division of Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com, unveiled its Core Controller, an in-line, network-based intrusion prevention appliance to enable 10 Gbps of bi-directional traffic inspection to protect the network and its resources, including operating systems and critical applications, from malicious threats.

Recently, networks have evolved to include 10 Gbps and 10 Gbps links have dropped in cost and become more widespread. Data center expansions and high performance applications, such as on-demand video, have fueled the 10 Gig revolution. And with that transition comes the need to inspect and remove malicious traffic at high throughput traffic points, not only at the perimeter of the WAN, but at major network segments in core networks and data centers.

Roark Pollack, TippingPoint's director of product marketing, said as users continue to consolidate, they need more network and bandwidth capacity. That leads to more and more critical applications in the data center and larger links. Core controller, he said, delivers 10 Gig interfaces and can process 10 Gig worth of traffic and inspection with little latency.

According to Pollack, Core Controller acts almost like a combination between a switch and a load balancer. It can take in traffic and direct it and balance it across other TippingPoint IPS units while offering 10 Gig worth of inspection capacity. Existing IPS boxes for lower speed links can be redeployed with Core Controller for 10 GigE protection, offering a "pay-as-you-grow" model to allow companies to use their existing IPS investments while also increasing IPS capacity to combat growing bandwidth and security requirements.

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Additionally, Core Controller can help scale to accommodate the increased traffic of 10 GigE, enabling growth as companies move toward a true 10 GigE network.

"A lot have 10 Gig networks, but not 10 Gig of traffic," Pollack said.

For the channel, Core Controller offers familiarity, meaning VARs won't have to learn anything new or add new inventory. The Core Controller sits in-line so VARs can make use of existing inventory and use the IPS knowledge they already have.

Core Controller also offers a security option as VARs to introduce their customers to 10 Gig and offer services around it.

"It's a relatively easy sell," Pollack said. "It gets their foot in the door to sell IPS and the services that go with it."

Phil O'Reilly, CEO of Solunet, a Melbourne, Fla.-based solution provider, said Core Controller comes at a time when 10 Gig is becoming the standard and its use has become more ubiquitous. He said switching and routing ports are moving to a mostly 10 Gig world and TippingPoint is capitalizing on that shift.

"10 Gig as a de facto is where we're going," he said, later adding that "100 Gig is coming."

Making 10 Gig IPS a stackable option, he said, means he can offer customers the ability to grow in phases and not through forklift upgrades.

"From a VARs perspective, it's important to show our customers investment continuity," he said.

O'Reilly added that Core Controller is also a good way to get ahead of a market trend. Even if a customer doesn't use 10 Gig and feels they don't need a 10 Gig box right away, he can offer it as a future-proofing technology.

"Whether you like it or not, you're going to get to 10 Gig and when you do, we'll have a product for you," he said. "

Pollack said Core Controller, because it is in-line, is deployed as a "bump-in-the-wire" network element for up to three, 10 Gbps network links. Traffic that enters Core Controller is flow balanced to a bank of TippingPoint IPS boxes where it is inspected and enforcement is performed. From there, malicious and other unwanted traffic is blocked and clean traffic is returned to Core Controller for distribution to the correct 10 Gbps egress link.

Core Controller includes several high availability features, such as redundant configurability, built-in zero power bypass, IPS heartbeat monitoring, link down synchronization and hardware watch dogs.

Core Controller's Intelligent Learning Mode can analyze traffic on each 10 GigE segment and offer recommendations for selecting optimal flow balancing traffic algorithms, which can save time during configuration.

Pollack added that both Core Controller and other TippingPoint IPS units are centrally managed by the TippingPoint Security Management System (SMS) for analysis, inventory and device health. With policy-based operational models and auto-discover features, SMS can ease management of large IPS and Core Controller deployments, Pollack said.