Test & Measurement

CPacket Tests 10G Monitoring Market

CPacket Networks Inc., the chipmaker chasing a market similar to deep packet inspection (DPI), is taking a detour into the systems world with a monitoring appliance for 10 Gbit/s data streams.

No, it's not that cPacket can't get anyone else to use its chips. The company's target market remains the systems OEMs that would make gear akin to what Allot Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALLT), Ellacoya Networks Inc. , and Sandvine Inc. sell.

But cPacket, a 22-person startup tucked away in Mountain View, Calif., has also been selling cards for functions such as test and measurement, network monitoring, and lawful intercept.

"These things were intended as reference designs, but people started asking, 'Can you make this available to me now? Because we have these new 10-Gbit/s links,' " says Rony Kay, CEO of the five-year-old firm.

The result, called cTap, gets unveiled today in advance of next week's Interop show. It's an appliance one rack-unit tall that, true to its name, taps into a 10-Gbit/s link and listens in. The boxes are available now at roughly $9,000. (See CPacket Taps 10 Gig.)

What's special about cPacket is that its chips are deterministic -- they inspect every packet and take a fixed amount of time to do so. Typically, DPI, if installed on a router or switch, tends to slow that box down. CPacket claims that problem becomes intractable at 10 Gbit/s.

As suitable as cPacket might be for monitoring, its real calling remains the traffic management market. CPacket's "complete" packet inspection differs from DPI in that it investigates every byte of every packet, rather than concentrating on the content payload alone. The chip can be programmed to take certain actions when certain pattern matches are found -- known viruses can be quarantined, for example.

CPacket has been shipping chips only since 2006, so OEM customers won't be shipping cPacket-based gear until 2009, Kay says. "It takes time for those guys before they are able to ship in quantities."

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:42:47 PM
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