A couple of new options are cropping up for companies that need high-speed virtual private (VPN) devices.

Asita Technologies, Inc., of Irvine, Calif., is now shipping the LineSpeed GS2, VPN hardware that supports speeds of 2G bps, while RapidStream, Inc., of San Jose, in March will add to its line of VPN/Firewall appliances with the RapidStream 8000. The 8000 has 360M bps of full-duplex VPN capacity and 600M bps full duplex firewall throughput.

Asita is able to deliver high performance thanks to an ASIC design that allows processing and cryptography to be performed on the same chip, reducing latency, says Robert Bova, executive vice president for the firm. Multiple such ASICs can be installed on a single board, bringing economies of scale while boosting power.

The company also offers a chassis-based version of the GS2 that customers can load up with modules that support not only VPNs, but firewalls, load balancing, content checking, intrusion detection, anti-virus and other applications. Out of the box the device supports only VPN capabilities, but Bova says the hardware can run security software from most any vendor. "The whole idea is flexibility and speed, speed, speed," he says.

Asita has other hardware models for smaller applications, ranging from the 20M bps LineSpeed LS20 desktop model to the 200M bps LineSpeed LS200. Prices range from $4,999 for the LS20 to $375,000 for a fully loaded GS2. GS2 pricing starts at $75,000.

While it's not as fast as the Asita GS2, the RapidStream 8000 is likely to be big enough for most applications. The product has two fiber gigabit Ethernet ports and can simultaneously support 128,000 firewall sessions and 20,000 VPN tunnels.

Bruce Byrd, vice president of marketing for RapidStream, says the 8000 offers an alternative for companies that need more than T-3 capacity, but aren't ready to pay the premium associated with gigabit-speed products.

On the other hand, companies that do need gigabit speed will have to wait until the third quarter for RapidStream to deliver its version.

Meanwhile, the 8000 will run RapidStream version 3.0 software, which adds features including VPN tunnel switching. The feature brings a hub and spoke design to VPNs to simplify the duplication of policy information for companies with lots of branch office sites. Instead of distributing policy information to all branches for each new one that comes online, tunnel switching enables all policies to be defined in a central unit. Remote branches establish VPN tunnels to the central unit, which applies the appropriate policy and establishes tunnels to other sites as necessary.

While that does create a central point of failure in the central unit, it means far less security knowledge and expertise is required than it takes to maintain a pure mesh design, Byrd says.

The RapidStream 8000 costs $29,995 for the version that supports 20,000 VPN tunnels, acting as a VPN concentrator. Another version that supports only 10 high-performance VPN tunnels, such as for VPNs between data centers, costs $19,995.

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