Fixing the Internet Using Secure Vector Routing

In IP communications, the concept of sessions has become second nature. Modern PBXs and video conferencing systems are built around the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). At the network edge, session border controllers (SBCs), also operate on the concept of media sessions, securing and routing voice and video communications flows based on session rules and controls specified by a network administrator.

What would happen if we applied this idea of sessions to all network traffic, not just IP voice and video packets? The answer: a complete disruption of how routing is done throughout the Internet.

It Started with the SBC

Many in our industry will remember Acme Packet, an early SBC manufacturer that gained market prominence and was subsequently acquired by Oracle, in 2013. Following a short stint at Oracle, the Acme Packet engineering and leadership teams reassembled and began discussing how they could apply the concept of sessions to the Internet at large. Conceptually, the Internet is quite simple: It comprises a series of stateless routers that know how to forward packets to each other. Connecting a series of these routers together enables delivery of IP packets from a source device to a destination device or service.

This sounds simple, but the reality is that most networks need far more than just routing; they need a variety of "middle boxes" such as firewalls, load balancers, network address translation (NAT), deep packet inspection, overlays, and tunnels -- all of which have session state and can manipulate packets. Each of these additional functions multiplies the number of devices in the network path, complicates the architecture, limits network scalability, and encumbers network management.

The Acme Packet team, now mostly reconstituted within a new company called 128 Technology, is simplifying network routing using the concept of sessions learned in the SIP world. The result is a secure, vector-routed network that is entirely software-based, "middle box" free, massively scalable, and, the company says, 90% to 95% less costly than a network using traditional routing.

Continue to Page 2: Why It's Disruptive