Endace first into 100 Gig network monitoring

Breakthrough may give Kiwi company up to a year's lead ahead of its global competitors

Kiwi network monitoring company Endace, founded on the basis of Waikato University research, claims to be the first to have broken into monitoring of networks at 100 Gbps speeds.

It has announced the EndaceAccess 100, a “network visibility headend” - a point where high-volume traffic enters for onward distribution. This will allow large organisations to “get the network access that they need to monitor, analyse, protect and troubleshoot 100G network segments”, according to the company’s announcement.

Although Endace is now an international company, with offices in the UK and on both coasts of the US, development work for the new Endace device was carried out in Hamilton, global marketing vice-president Tim Nichols confirms.

The company says its ability to move into 100 Gbit territory when other providers in that select market have not been able to, is owing to the fact that Endace’s competitors base their devices on “merchant silicon” – off-the-shelf standard chips – whereas Endace uses specifically tailored circuitry - field programmable gate arrays – and these scale more readily to the 100G market.

Standard-silicon-based devices “will no doubt be able to scale in time to come” as the technology advances, says Nichols, “but it can’t do the job now”. It’s hard to estimate how much of a window Endace will have to sell into the 100G monitoring market before the competition catches up, he says; “but I’d say we have about a year.”

There are patents on the Endace technology, but at a “deeper level” than that specifically used in the EndaceAccess 100, Nichols says; they apply to the overall DAG (Data Acquisition and Generation) technology on which Endace devices in general are based.

“We go to great pains to protect and properly manage our intellectual property,” he says.

Though he could not comment on the effect that planned amendments to New Zealand’s Patents Act, barring patents on software, might have, he emphasises that the basis of Endace’s devices is special-purpose silicon, also known as “firmware”.

There is a limited market for 100Gbit/s monitoring, Nichols says, chiefly among large media and entertainment companies, government, telcos and some financial companies. A US government agency initially approached Endace with a need for 100G monitoring and stimulated its development effort.

And yes, the term DAG is a tribute to the sheep-farming country where Endace was founded, Nichols says.

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