Nortel Networks adopted a different approach to that taken by other vendors in this group test. Nortel combined the functions of a network switch with an SSL acceleration processor, rather than producing a dedicated SSL accelerator appliance that could be used with external switches.
Offering 24 10/100 Base-T Ethernet ports, four gigabit links for inter-switch connections and a separate management port, it has the capabilities of an intelligent switch, while the SSL acceleration is provided by an integrated version of Nortel's Alteon SSL Accelerator (ASA) device.
The switch can support virtual local area networks, spanning tree protocol and IP routing as well as providing application switching features such as server load balancing, application redirection and filtering. The available options provide useful flexibility and the configuration can be adjusted to suit most requirements.
The system's setup is performed using a command line interface over a serial connection. Although most options can be changed later, some need to be carried out at this time.
Once the setup is completed, the system can be configured and managed through a browser-based interface. This interface gives access to a variety of system monitoring displays. Server health states and traffic loads are displayed and updated frequently. We used it to monitor the server load-balancing feature, watching the device as it routed the traffic to each server in turn on a round-robin basis.
The interface can operate in a configuration mode that allows changes to be made to aspects of the system as it runs, so there is seldom a need to use the command line once the setup is complete.
The provision of a management port, distinct from the data ports, allows a separate management network to be created, which could be a physically separate network with its own cabling and switches. This has advantages for network management and also has some useful security possibilities. However, it is possible to manage the device over the normal data ports without using the dedicated management port.
It will integrate with other Nortel products and can be part of clusters that include other Nortel SSL accelerators such as the ASA-310 as well as other 2424 devices.