Allot Communications, an Israeli outfit which does high-end bandwidth shaping and network traffic management gear, has brought out an even bigger Service Gateway device. Aimed at the service provider (SP) or large enterprise, this is capable of handling over 20 Gbit/s of traffic.
The Service Gateway is an expandable chassis that can automatically identify hundreds of protocols and apply policies such as speed limits or blocks, even on a subscriber by subscriber basis.
It can also identify traffic for special treatment - passing it to a URL filtering engine, perhaps - and Allot wants other companies to develop apps that could live on blades in the chassis. It's all based on Allot's Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, so you might add an IPS/IDS blade for instance.
The idea is that you, as a SP, can generate extra revenue by selling your customers extra P2P capacity, say, or guaranteed quality of service for video-on-demand, or a service for filtering out dodgy websites.
"The ability to look into the network pipe and know what applications are running is key," said Allot boss Rami Hadar. "You can drill down user by user and see who are the big gamers, P2P users and so on, and then charge or service them appropriately."
He acknowledged the implications this has for net neutrality - it gives SPs the ability to disfavour services that compete with their own, or boost those that pay them for carriage - but argued that's inevitable as the internet grows.
"The internet was designed to be a best-effort network, but it's now going through a change in usage," he said. "In three to five years, all non-mobile voice traffic will be over the internet. It's video too - we will see broadcast video over the internet in two years, and it's gaming as well.
"All SPs now understand the need to charge for QoS or different service levels. Today, content providers are pretty much using the internet for free, so it could make sense for SPs to do revenue-sharing with them.
"It will require some reasonable rules to prevent monopolistic or unfair business practices, but we have content and applications now that no-one thought of four years ago, and some recognition of the need to avoid congestion is mandatory.
He added: "We are trying to help SPs move away from price wars to service wars."
Hadar said that Allot is developing more powerful DPI engines that will fit in the same chassis and take the Service Gateway to 120 Gbit/sec or more. The device has boards with dual 10Gbit/s interfaces now, and will support 40Gbit/s links in a few years.
Allot's technology competes with others such as Ellacoya, Sandvine and Cisco - the latter via its 2004 purchase of P-Cube. Its UK users include cable company NTL, now Virgin Media. ®