ATCA: The Perfect Fit for DPI

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) is an exciting new segment of the networking market. We can divide DPI applications into two categories:

Ones that service providers must buy to satisfy management needs, regulations or legislation:

  • Subscriber Traffic Shaping
  • Network Firewall
  • Peer-to-Peer Blocking / Caching / Redirection
  • Lawful Intercept

Ones that drive carrier revenue:

  • Tiered Subscriber Bandwidth / Applications
  • UTM Security Service, Anti-Spam, IDS/IPS
  • Web Content Filtering
  • IPTV Ad Insertion
  • Market Intelligence Gathering
  • Server Virtualization

The first category includes security appliances the carriers need to protect their networks from attacks, control peer-to-peer traffic, and comply with legally-mandated capabilities such as lawful wiretapping and intercept systems.

The second category allows operators to offer new services and hence create new revenue streams. For example, DPI applications allow carriers to provide tiered service, offer network-based security such as spam-blocking and intrusion prevention (IPS), and roll out targeted advertising based on user traffic. No matter what you are doing, the appropriate advertising will be there!

Historically based on proprietary platforms, DPI systems have recently shifted toward standard platforms such as ATCA. ATCA provides a compelling solution for implementing new DPI applications, because the market demands quick time-to-market as well as extreme bandwidth scalability.

In fact, the DPI market has moved faster than other aspects of telecom because security threats change constantly and require immediate responses. After all, people create the threats, and they can quickly discontinue attacks that are being thwarted effectively and move on to new ones. They also have access themselves to the latest technological advances. Furthermore, sheer core network bandwidth keeps increasing rapidly, which means that DPI systems must grow to keep up.

In many cases, DPI systems are driving the state-of-the art.  One Gbps platforms appeared just a few years ago, but today a single chassis such as Procera Networks’ PacketLogic PL10000 supports 80Gbps with a roadmap for 320Gbps. DPI systems impose demanding requirements across three broad technology areas: packet processing, general (compute) processing, and switching.

An example high-performance platform is Continuous Computing’s FlexTCA. It includes two switch cards, each with 80Gbps of external connectivity, and an integrated load balancer, allowing 160Gbps of external traffic to be balanced across the payload cards. The cards themselves include high performance packet processors, capable of 10Gbps full-duplex traffic, and the latest x86 processor cards consisting of dual Intel quad-core CPUs.

ATCA is the perfect fit for high-performance DPI, since it can meet the demands of ever-increasing bandwidth, tremendous flexibility, state-of-the-art computing power, and rapid time-to-market. What’s more, the multi-vendor, open standards nature of ATCA allows quick innovation and broad industry support for generations of DPI capabilities yet to come.

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