App measures SSL performance of Web servers

App measures SSL performance of Web servers

A module for the FlameThrower platform from Antara LLC of Campbell, Calif., can stress-test the Secure Sockets Layer performance of Web servers and SSL accelerators.

FlameThrower/SSL Stressor emulates SSL traffic, measuring performance and availability. The software module can generate up to 2,000 SSL transactions per second through the FlameThrower chassis.

SSL establishes authenticated and encrypted sessions between Web servers and browsers, using public-key cryptography. 'It requires an order of magnitude more computer power' than unencrypted sessions, said Chuck Kolstad, Antara chief executive officer.

SSL encryption is common in financial and other sensitive transactions, but Kolstad estimated it protects no more than 10 percent of all Hypertext Transfer Protocol connections.

'We think in a couple of years it will be the rare transaction that won't be secured,' Kolstad said.

Show must go on

SSL accelerators'hardware devices to offload authentication and encryption tasks from servers'speed up the process. The SSL Stressor measures SSL's impact on the network infrastructure as well as server and accelerator performance.

An eight-port FlameThrower chassis can generate up to 30,000 unsecured HTTP transactions per second. The SSL Stressor uses four ports and generates 1,600 to 2,000 secure transactions a second, each transferring 1K.

Antara has no federal users yet but is targeting the government market, Kolstad said.

The SSL Stressor module costs $8,000. The FlameThrower chassis starts around $35,000, depending on configuration. Kolstad estimated an appropriate configuration for SSL testing would cost about $65,000.

Contact Antara at 408-341-1461.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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