NetScreen firewall ups the speed stakes

An enterprise firewall from NetScreen, unveiled this week, is fast enough to handle up to 10,000 simultaneous clients, according to the manufacturers

Firewall specialist NetScreen Technologies has launched a product, aimed at service providers and large enterprises, that can filter up to 12 gigabits per second (gbps) of traffic. The NetScreen-5200 will cost $129,000 (£89,000). The product also encrypts traffic for virtual private networks (VPNs). "We have 10,000 VPN users on one deployment," said Peter Crowcombe, product marketing manager, EMEA for NetScreen. The product's throughput is half as big if it is also encrypting the traffic. The NetScreen-5200 works at 4gbps and the NetScreen-5400, which works at 12gbps, will arrive in the third quarter of this year. The products have a throughput of 2gbps and 6gbps respectively when they are encrypting. Inside the product is a 15gbps backplane switch fabric, and each port uses NetScreen's GigaScreen-II custom chip (called an ASIC), which combines a processor and co-processor. Some other suppliers use traditional processors, and PCI bus to connect the ports on their firewalls, which creates a bottleneck, said Crowcombe. As with any networking product, benchmarking is contentious. Although NetScreen made the first product claiming to reach Gigabit speeds, Nokia and Cisco have since released results in the same range. Crowcombe claims that these tests used maximum packet size, giving the firewall fewer packets to investigate. The product will be used in the core of networks, enforcing security between multiple VLANs and departments -- responding to current concerns that internal security risks are significant compared with external dangers. "One of the real growth areas for network security is in products that give customers lots of deployment flexibility," said Jeff Wilson, executive director of research at Infonetics Research, a leading market research firm. "End-users and service providers are trying to do much more than just protect their Internet connection; they want to segment off sensitive traffic, isolate wireless networks, protect data centres, and build secure zones for connectivity to customers and partners."

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