Security Platforms/Tools

IBM Tempts Telcos, Secures BladeCenter

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) continues to nudge its BladeCenter server platform toward the telecom world, this time pairing up with CloudShield Technologies Inc. to deliver a security blade with a telco angle.

The new PN41, being launched today in conjunction with the ITU Telecom Asia 2008 in Bangkok, embraces the trend of applications like security getting bundled into other systems, rather than residing on separate appliances.

CloudShield sees the partnership as a way to get its product to a telecom audience.

"They wanted to be able to drop in an enterprise application without changes, so they wouldn't have to wait for the service provider version of a firewall or intrusion prevention," says Bill Scull, CloudShield's vice president of marketing.

CloudShield had already announced a partnership that put its deep packet inspection (DPI) technology onto BladeCenter. And it's not the only vendor mixing BladeCenter with security; Cloudmark Inc. has recently gone that route, too. (See CloudShield, IBM Partner and BladeCenter Adds Cloudmark.)

IBM, meanwhile, is always looking for ways to expand BladeCenter beyond the data center and into telecom. In a way, the platform is IBM's answer to AdvancedTCA (ATCA), the set of standards produced by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) .

"What they're trying to do is fold in some of the technologies that are carrier-facing, that carriers are looking for anyway. DPI is certainly part of that," says David Vorhaus, an analyst with Yankee Group Research Inc.

But BladeCenter faces some cultural challenges. For one, IBM hasn't traditionally focused server sales on telecom. And blades like the PN41 have to combat the some network operators' tendency to add new functions to the network by adding new boxes.

"There's a comfort level. As you know, a lot of these decisions are not made just based on what the best technology's going to be," Vorhaus says.

CloudShield's specialty in general is the control of traffic. That includes security to block denial of service attacks or domain name server (DNS) attacks, the latter being a hot topic lately. (See New Internet Poison Gets Instant Antidote and Nominum Caches In.)

Today's announcement involves putting CloudShield's DNS Defender and Subscriber Services Manager (SSM) applications on the PN41 blade.

What's more important, CloudShield and IBM say, is that the PN41 comes with an applications development environment -- code that lets carriers develop their own uses for the blade, if they want to.

CloudShield can already cite some examples based on early customers' experiences. One service provider wrote an application to protect routers from attacks inadvertently forwarded from downstream Internet service providers. Another used the development environment to create load-balancing blades for handing traffic from a newly installed 10 Gbit/s core, Scull says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to ATCA, AMC & MicroTCA: Off-the-Shelf Platforms for the Converged IP Network, which will explore the impact these important platforms are already having on the telecom equipment market. To be staged in Boston, September 18, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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