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Netli Adds App-Level SSL To Ultra High Speed Network

NetLightning Strikes Again

  • November 17, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

At Comdex this week, Netli will announce the addition of hardware-based application-level acceleration and encryption for Web sites that use its Linux-enabled NetLightning high speed Internet overlay network. The three-year-old Silicon Valley start-up will also make an official rollout of four more blue-chip customers: Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Tektronix, and Scholastic Publishing.

Accomplished through a deal with nCipher, the new application-level Secure Socket Layer (SSL) option is geared mainly to Web portals operated by government, financial, and medical organizations, said Willie M. Tejada, vice president of marketing and business development, during a pre-briefing with LinuxPlanet.

To reduce network latency, particularly over long distances, Netlightning uses transport protocols developed inhouse--in place of traditional HTTP and TCP--between its network endpoints.

Netli has been using Linux in its virtual data centers (VDCs) ever since NetLightning's initial launch. At the time, most network service providers leaned toward BSD Linux. "We saw the future, though, and it was Linux," said Michael Kharitonov, chairman and co-founder, also during the interview. With today's announcement, customers will now get a choice of two different services from NetLi: NetLightning SSL-T (SSL - Transport), and NetLightning SSL-AT (application transport.) The new AT service also adds FIPS 140-2 Level-3 validated security. in addition to caching, compression, and image pre-fetching.

Acting as an Internet proxy, nCipher's hardware-based encryption runs between Netlightning's end points at the application layer of the network protocol stack, on top of Netli's transport layer. Netli's network also includes Application Access Points (AAPs), along with VDCs. The new services will support application software ranging from Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes to PeopleSoft apps, for instance.

Using Netli's transport services, previously announced customers such as Millipore and Nielsen have already managed to cut Internet response several times over, Tejada maintained.

Most of the improvement has shown up on the "middle"--as opposed to the first or last--mile.

"HTTP and TCP are inefficient protocols for serving distant users who demand response to interactive dynamic applications," according to Tejada. "Response time slows as the distance between the user and datacenter increases."

Specifically, Tejada pointed to problems in "network layering" between HTTP and TCP, as well as several issues that slow down HTTP: a three-way handshake; slow-start pauses; and "excessive retransmission" due to packet loss and congestion.

By using NetLightning, Millipore's online store has already slashed response time from between seven and eight seconds to between one and three seconds. Nielsen, on the other hand, has been able to "avoid the buildout of duplicate data centers in New York City and Europe," Tejada contended.

HP has placed its DSPP developers' portal on NetLightning. Boeing and Tektronix are each using the overlay network for customer portals. Scholastic's portal, also attached to Netlightning, is designed for students, parents, and school personnel.

As key advantages to Linux, Kharitonov cited redundancy and load balancing. "Each of our network nodes is a Linux cluster," he said.

Also, right from the start, Netli has seen Linux as a platform for innovation. "The best developers have wanted to work on Linux, and we have wanted to recruit talent," Kharitonov noted.

With today's announcement, customers will now have a choice of two different services from NetLi: NetLightning SSL-T (SSL - Transport and NetLightning SSL-AT (application transport.) The new AT service adds FIPS 140-2 Level-3 validated security. in addition to caching, compression, and and image pre-fetching for applications such as Outlook.

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