Nortel broadens firewall family with Alteon 5109

Nortel Networks is adding weight to its security portfolio with the addition of the Alteon Firewall 5109 to its firewall family and the introduction of the Alteon Security Manager, which represents the vendor’s initial step into security management.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  March 27, 2003

Product expansion|~||~||~|Nortel Networks is adding weight to its security portfolio with the addition of the Alteon Firewall 5109 to its firewall family and the introduction of the Alteon Security Manager, which represents the vendor’s initial step into security management.

The networking vendor is touting the plug and play capability of its 5109 firewall as critical in appealing to the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) market. Additionally, Nortel emphasises the scalability and easy upgrade path of the firewall for larger enterprises.

“One of our key statements is ‘plug and play deployment.’ All our firewalls are very easy to configure and deploy, as well as being very easy to upgrade and scale,” claims Paul Compton, Alteon product manager, Nortel Networks, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

“The 5109 is targeted at either SMEs or larger organisations with many sites or branch offices. What we are trying to do is provide different firewalls at different price points that meet different requirements,” he adds.

Nortel’s firewall family is split into two segments, the accelerator range and the directors. The higher end accelerator range are effectively Layer 4-7 switch devices that enhance the delivery of traffic through the firewall. They also contain director modules, which control the security intelligence.

The 5109 firewall fits into the low end of the director segment, but the product features a Pentium 4 processor to enhance performance. Additionally, the 5109 product can be upgraded to work alongside the vendor’s accelerator firewalls should an enterprise’s traffic or security requirements increase.

“If a company has a fairly modest requirement and only needs a 5105 or a 5109 firewall, but their traffic levels increase to the extent that a single stand alone firewall is not sufficient, we can convert it to a director with a software upgrade and then put in the firewall accelerator to effectively increase the performance and scalability of their firewall,” explains Compton.

With the 5109 product completing its firewall family and providing Nortel with an opportunity to replicate the success it has seen with its higher end products, the vendor is subsequently turning its attention to the management of its security products.

The initial Alteon Security Manager solution will only control the accelerator range of firewalls from the 5308 range up to the 57 set. However, Nortel has already outlined an upgrade path, which will see the product’s capabilities broadened to manage the entire firewall range, as well other security products.

“The Alteon Security Manager just manages the two box Alteon Switch Firewalls. In subsequent releases it will be able to manage the lower end firewalls, and moving forward it will have the ability to manage our SSL (secure sockets layer) products, which are used primarily in e-commerce environments and SSL VPN (virtual private networks) environments,” explains Compton.

The management solution is designed to provide consistent administration across the various security devices that an enterprise implements. This includes providing security administrators with alerts and configuration, performance, and capacity planning capabilities.

Although the Security Manager will be capable of working with other third party management suites and Nortel’s Optivity management platform, it is only capable of controlling Nortel security devices.

The vendor, however, dismisses the proprietary elements of its security manager by highlighting the price/performance benefits of its overall security range. “It’s all about performance and availability, particularly with firewall products. We can demonstrate where the Alteon firewall can be 70% more cost effective than competitive products with regard to price/performance,” claims Compton.

“The other side of this is increased availability and reliability of firewalls. If you over burden the firewall it will slow down the response time to users and that can lead to a decrease in employee productivity,” he adds.||**||

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