Scaling Down for SMBs

SMBs are getting their hands on high-end network and security features

April 28, 2004

2 Min Read
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Managed network services vendor ClearPath Networks Inc. and semiconductor specialist Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) unveiled new products today that aim to provide lower-end users with the level of functionality typically enjoyed by large corporates (see Marvell Intros New SMB Devices).

Taken together these two announcements typify what's happening to several data center technologies. The more common technologies become in data centers, the more component and manufacturing prices drop, making it reasonable for vendors to steer them toward the SMB space.

In April, Heavy Reading made the same point regarding the price of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports, which have dropped by about $30,000 per port in the last year. The report said that with per-port prices of $3,000 or less, 10-Gig Ethernet would become a reality in the enterprise network (see Heavy Reading Examines 10-GigE).

Last week Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) launched an SMB solutions initiative for small and medium-sized businesses that combines Cisco products with services, financing, applications, and training.

ClearPath is targeting one specific element of the SMB space with its new SNAP VPN, which places multiple network and security functions in a single device. The company is attempting to plug a gap in the market whereby many SMBs currently lack the resources to effectively manage their networks. SNAP VPN, which is described by ClearPath as a plug-and-play device, is installed behind a bridge, modem, or router Internet gateway.The device works by downloading a range of network and security services from ClearPaths own private network, which can then be used by the SMB. These include firewall, content filtering, antivirus, intrusion detection, and network management services.

ClearPath chief executive Cliff Young believes that the device opens up the SMB market to levels of network management that were previously unavailable. “Today, in most SMBs, managing VPN tunnels is done manually, but now a lot of the management of the tunnel is done dynamically through ClearPath’s back-end systems,” says Young.

Two SNAP VPN products were launched today, the 1200 and 1400 series, which support 10 users or 10 concurrent encrypted VPN tunnels and 25 users or 30 tunnels, respectively.

Also today, Marvell launched its new Prestera 16-port and 24-port managed Gigabit Ethernet devices -- the DX160 and DX240 -- which are aimed specifically at SMBs.

Gigabit Ethernet is already well established in data centers and higher-end corporates, and, as prices fall, the technology is attracting more and more attention from SMBs.Marvell says the new Ethernet devices offer a range of high-end security features such as 802.1x port authentication and VLANs. Quality-of-service features include DiffServ and 802.1 priority support for applications such as VOIP and multimedia.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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