3Com's TippingPoint Tightens SSL and Virtual Security

Networking vendor expands its switching and security portfolio as HP acquisition looms.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 22, 2010
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Although HP's $2.7 billion acquisition of networking vendor 3Com is nearing completion, that isn't stopping 3Com from rolling out new products.

Today, 3Com (NASDAQ: COMS) announced a trio of new products including a new switching platform and a pair new security initiatives from its TippingPoint security division.

One of the new security products is the TippingPoint vController, which is part of the company's effort to create a secure virtualization framework. David de Valk, product manager for virtualization at TippingPoint, explained to InternetNews.com that the goal of the framework is to provide purpose-built technology to fill in the security gaps of virtual infrastructure. He said vController lets users create security policies for their VMware ESX server traffic and then tunnel the traffic to a physical TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention System for inspection.

Another new security product from TippingPoint announced today is the 1500S SSL Appliance, likewise designed to fill another key enterprise security need.

"We have a lot of users that are encrypting traffic and then passing it through IPS, leaving the IPS blind to the content of the traffic," Roark Pollock, TippingPoint's director of product marketing, told InternetNews.com "What we've done is we've created a box that is solely dedicated to performing one function: It can terminate your inbound SSL sessions into the datacenter, unencrypt the traffic, and then pass it to the IPS for inspection."

After the data passes the IPS, it can then be sent back to the SSL Appliance to be re-encrypted, or it can be passed on unencrypted, depending on the enterprise policy.

By helping to enable the inspection of SSL traffic, Pollock noted that the SSL Appliance is performing a function that TippingPoint's IPS does not do on its own. He added that the performance impact of integrated SSL decryption into the IPS wouldn't makes sense either, which is why TippingPoint decided to build a standalone appliance.

On the switching side, 3Com announced the H3C S9500E modular switch chassis, which can enable multiple physical switches to be virtualized across a LAN. The 9500E has up to 1.4 terabits per second of switching capacity and can provision up to 192 10-gigabit ports. Yves Steger, director of product management at 3Com, told InternetNews.com that he sees Cisco's Catalyst 6500 platform as the primary competitive target for the new H3C switch.

3Com's moves come at a key moment for both it and its massive rival, with Cisco last week revealing that it was ending its partnership with HP -- an announcement that comes as 3Com's acquisition by HP nears its close.

While 3Com's acquisition by HP may be having an impact on its larger rival, so far it hasn't yet had much of an effect on 3Com's own product plans.

"At this point for most of us, we haven't seen any impact from the whole acquisition announcement," Pollock said. "It hasn't trickled down to the development and product management groups -- we've been operating as being completely independent and we haven't been affected."

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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