Free network software might radically change how routing works

Startup 128 Technology says it can create secure paths across the Internet

Radical new ideas are hitting network technology these days.

On Tuesday, one new startup promised to make switches fully programmable. Another, routing software company 128 Technology, said it would fix the Internet.

What 128 is proposing is a fundamentally different approach to routing, one that the company says will make networking simpler and more secure.

The Internet was designed just to send packets from a source to a destination, but it’s evolved into a platform for delivering content and services among large, private networks. These complex tasks call for capabilities beyond basic routing, like security and knowing about the state of a session, said Andy Ory, 128’s CEO. He was the founder of Acme Packet, a session border controller company Oracle acquired in 2013. His new company is named after Route 128, the famed Massachusetts tech corridor where its headquarters is located.

Conventional routers aren’t really equipped for those tasks, he said. So network engineers have added load balancers, firewalls, tunnels, MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), deep packet inspection and other components to augment routers. The complexity is starting to catch up with us, Ory said. “It worked for 20 years. But we’ve reached a point where it just doesn’t work anymore.”

As the Internet gets fragmented among private networks, it’s getting harder for companies to deliver applications and services to their customers, he said.

The solution, according to 128, is deterministic routing that can select, manage and enforce a path across the Internet. This would ensure traffic moves safely and with the right level of service between, say, a corporate LAN and Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud. That could help solve a lot of the problems network users face, including things like espionage and identity theft, Ory said.

“The network itself does not participate in security,” he said. “A session-aware routed network could participate in security.”

Rather than try to replace all the routers on the Internet, 128 will introduce Linux-based routing software that can run on any server. These virtual routers will be able to create deterministic paths between them while coexisting with conventional routers.

It would take a broad ecosystem to roll out a change as big as this across the Internet, so 128 plans to submit its technology to standards bodies. But there are ways to use it that don’t require the whole Internet to play along: For example, a carrier could use the routers within its own network, or an enterprise could implement them within a data center.

The company’s business model will be as unconventional as its approach to routing: It won’t sell hardware and its software will be free. To make money, 128 will sell licenses to use the software based on the amount of data the customer sends through the virtual routers.

The software is commercially available now and in trials with customers. The company expects it to be processing live traffic later this year.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?