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Force10 Breaks Into Security

Breaking into new territory, Force10 Networks Inc. today is unveiling its line of intrusion detection and prevention products.

The foray into security marks the company's first departure from its initial market of big honking Ethernet switches. Force10 presaged this move with the November acquisition of MetaNetworks, a startup with fewer than 10 people. (See Force10 Buys MetaNetworks.)

Some security appliances are available for 10-Gbit/s lines. Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), for instance, offers 10-Gbit/s interfaces for the NetScreen-5000 series of firewall and VPN devices. But Force10 thinks it's got the only box for 10-Gbit/s line-speed intrusion detection and prevention.

It makes sense for Force10 to get into security, since much of its business is in newfangled research and government networks, where requirements sometimes outdistance the reach of mainstream equipment. (See CERN Uses Force10 Switches and Korean Grid Uses Force10.) "We think it's a natural evolution for us, because we've built all these high-speed networks, and customers are saying, 'How do I secure it?' " says Stephen Garrison, Force10's VP of marketing.

Force10's P-10 box includes two ports of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet. When used for intrusion detection, each of the two ports can be connected to a separate 10-Gbit/s line. A more advanced use would be intrusion prevention, where the box sits inline, using one 10-Gbit/s port for input and the other for output.

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