Think Ahead: Add Intelligence To Your Infrastructure

Infrastructure gear is a bare necessity. If your network is not fast and reliable enough, the applications that enable all the above simply aren't going to work.

April 28, 2003

5 Min Read
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Top-notch, innovative gear is out there--all our Well-Connected Infrastructure winners use raw power, intelligence or a combination of the two to make sure your network keeps humming along.

When it comes to LAN power, the IEEE continues to make once-theoretical connectivity upgrades a reality--802.3ae, the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard, is proof. Moreover, vendors like Extreme Networks and Foundry Networks have proved that 10 Gig isn't merely possible, it's practical, albeit still a little pricey. And if you're monitoring your backbone, as you should be, it's good to know that help is there when your Gigabit Ethernet connections run out of steam.

Often, just adding some intelligence to your network can improve performance markedly. Such is the case with F5's Big-IP 4.5, with its ability to distribute content requests among Web resources even more intelligently than its predecessor, which was our 2002 Infrastructure product of the year. And, when you combine raw power with intelligence, you get the DataPower XA35 XML Accelerator, which impressed us so much we named it this year's Infrastructure product of the year. Content Switch | 10 Gigabit Switch | Acceleration Device | DNS Server Appliance

Content Switch

Winner: Big-IP 4.5, F5 Networks, (888) 88 BIG IP, (206) 272-5555. www.f5.comF5 Networks continues its tradition of innovation in the content-switching arena with the Big-IP 4.5, which expands Layer 7 traffic inspection and routing while opening HTTP header or payload data to its Universal Inspection Engine. This forward-looking Big-IP incarnation offers customers support for emerging application standards, such as SOAP, so infrastructure architects now can design highly efficient routing architectures based on content or custom headers.

• Array TM 6, Array Networks, (866) 692-7729, (408) 378-6800.

• Server Iron 100, Foundry Networks, (888) TURBO-LAN, (408) 586-1700.

10 Gigabit Switch

Winner: BlackDiamond 6808 switch with 10GLRi, Extreme Networks, (888) 257-3000, (408) 579-2800. www.extremenetworks.comWith the standards-based 802.3ae interface for its BlackDiamond switch, Extreme Networks is ahead of the game when it comes to 10 Gig connectivity. Even during a barrage of tough performance tests with various packet sizes, the BlackDiamond didn't wince. Access lists, QoS and high packet-per-second rates didn't slow down Extreme's 10 Gigabit interfaces, which maintained their advertised 8 Gbps of throughput in each direction. And Extreme did all this without sacrificing any of the features you'd expect in a high-end, enterprise-class, end-to-end switching and routing device.

• BigIron Layer 3 Backbone Switch 10-Gigabit Ethernet, Foundry Networks, (888) TURBO-LAN, (408) 586-1700.

Acceleration Device

Winner: DataPower XA35 XML Accelerator 2.0, DataPower Technology, (617) 864-0455.

The DataPower XA35, our Infrastructure product of the year, sets the pace for accelerator devices. The trim 1U box, which sports four 10/100 Ethernet ports, slashes the time it takes to perform XSLT on XML documents by acting as a souped up XSLT engine. It offers all the horsepower you need to serve up transformed XML in a timely manner.Finalist:
• SiteCelerate, OptiView Technologies, (800) 232-4889, (703) 450-8809.

DNS Server Appliance

Winner: Adonis DNS Server, BlueCat Networks, (905) 882.5691.

DNS appliances offer ease-of-use advantages and long-term cost savings by freeing staffers from the daily DNS grind and automating patching and updates. BlueCat's Adonis is our top pick because it packs a bevy of security features, an intuitive client interface and speedy error-checking capabilities in a compact 1U chassis. As for security, Adonis' ACL capabilities, 128-bit-encrypted SSL connection between the appliance and client, and integrated firewalls gives us a warm, safe feeling. The Java-based client interface is easy to use and replete with helpful wizards.

Finalist: • DNS One 2.2.7, Infoblox, (888) 463-6259, (847) 475-8500. www.infoblox.comPeter Morrissey is a full-time faculty member of Syracuse University's School of Information Studies, and a contributing editor and columnist at Network Computing. Write to him at [email protected].

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DataPower XA35 XML Accelerator 2.0, DataPower Technology, (617) 864-0455.

Product of the Yearclick to enlarge

DataPower's XA35 is an exemplary example of the way in which distributed computing was meant to enhance the performance and capabilities of applications. By providing a centralized mechanism for applying XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation) to incoming and outgoing XML documents, the XA35 off-loads the CPU-intensive process of parsing, manipulating and validating XML documents.

A fortuitous side effect of using the XA35 is that all processing is centralized, so standards are applied across the enterprise with minimal changes to the development environment. The XA35 also reconciles external references, making it ideal to incorporate the growing library of XLST available from outside sources. Because the XA35 can perform transformations transparently on the network, no changes to a production environment are required, making deployment of the product nonintrusive. Developers and production systems alike are well-connected by the XA35. Infrastructure Links at ...

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