HP Expands TippingPoint Security

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Two months after HP completed its $2.7 billion acquisition of 3Com, the combined company is now rolling out new security gear.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) this week announced new Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) form factors, a virtual IPS technology called vController and an SSL inspection appliance. The new security technologies are from 3Com's TippingPoint division and expand the security options available from HP.

The new vController is part of the HP TippingPoint Secure Virtualization Framework (SVF) and is aimed at helping to secure enterprise virtualization using both virtual and physical technologies.

"What the vController does is any virtual machine (VM) traffic, whether it's VM to VM or VM to physical device, is inspected," Michael Callahan, senior director of security product marketing at HP, told InternetNews.com.

Callahan explained that the vController takes the VM traffic from the virtual layer and then routes it out to a TippingPoint physical IPS device to be inspected. Once the traffic has been inspected, it's then redirected back to its original destination. He added that the vController works with VMware's virtualization technologies.

As to why HP decided to go with a virtual-to-physical approach to inspecting all VM traffic--it's a question of performance.

"We chose that configuration intentionally," Callahan said. "We didn't feel like it was the right thing to do to consume more virtual resources by a virtual IPS. We thought it makes more sense to take the traffic and inspect it on a physical box with minimal, if any, latency."

Callahan added that thanks to the speed of the dedicated physical IPS hardware from TippingPoint, up to 20 gigabits per second of traffic can be inspected.

The same basic idea of providing dedicated hardware to help security performance is what underlies the new HP TippingPoint S1500 SSL Appliance, as well. The S1500 is a dedicated physical appliance that helps to provide IPS inspection of SSL-encrypted traffic. As with the vController, Callahan noted that providing SSL encryption and decryption on a general-purpose IPS may impact performance and that, in HP's view, the better route to take is having a dedicated SSL appliance.

"Not all traffic is SSL traffic, so the ability to take the traffic that is SSL and route it to a separate box to handle encryption is a better architectural solution for us at this point," Callahan said.

HP is also rolling out a new IPS form factor with the HP TippingPoint S1200N IPS A7500 Module, which provides IPS capabilities to 3Com A7500 switches. For now, the former 3Com TippingPoint IPS technology is not yet being made available as a module for HP's own ProCurve switches that HP had marketed under its own brand name prior to the 3Com acquisition.

"As we look at the products that were previously part of HP ProCurve, we'll make deployment decisions where it makes sense, Callahan said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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