RealTime IT News

NAI Nabs Patent for Helping Proxy Servers

Usually known for its security and anti-virus software, Network Associates (NAI) Thursday said it was granted a U.S. patent for streamlining proxy server traffic.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said U.S. Patent number 6,510,448 entitled "System, Method And Computer Program Product For Increasing The Performance Of A Proxy Server," covers both proxies and context switching. The patent covers multiple systems and methods, but the technology centers on using a virtual machine or other mechanism or module that runs separately from the operating system.

For example, when a process or thread is blocked, the proxy server can switch to a different process or thread, also known as a context switch. NAI says the frequent blocking of network read/write operations can result in frequent context switching, which ultimately reduces the input/output that occurs on a network. The patent points to a software virtual machine or other mechanism or module to speed up that context switching. NAI says in an application to a networking environment, such a system could improve the efficiency of handling input/output operations through improved control of switching between contexts.

The company said the advantage is its software virtual machine method can support restartable instructions on the proxy server to ensure that, when resumed, a previously blocked context will continue with the instruction that had previously been blocked or suspended.

"This is new technology and is an advance from what has been done before," said Christopher Hamaty, director of Intellectual Property at NAI. "The technology is particularly useful in engines for intrustion prevention systems. There are a number of competitive designs in the marketplace, and Network Associates considers this granted patent an important competitive advantage for the company."

NAI says the patent is applicable to a variety of computer systems or networks including, but not limited to, firewall systems such as application-level gateways or proxy servers.

Hamaty said NAI is not yet prepared to comment on which companies might have designs that would fall under the purview of the new patent. The company was also not yet prepared to speak to whether or not the technology will be integrated with future products.

In addition to its McAfee platform (anti-virus), the company also supports Sniffer Technologies, (network and application management) and Magic Solutions (Web-based service desk software).