Unified Network Platform

The Unified Network Platform, or UNP, is an open platform architecture that enables the convergence of network applications including:

  • Data networking
  • Security
  • Network infrastructure
  • Network applications
  • Network management

The UNP delivers core network functions via a foundation of open-source software and general purpose Intel/AMD computing hardware. With this foundation, the UNP offers full flexibility, transparency, scalability, and expandability. The UNP product concept comprises layers of software components, called modules, operating on a substrate of a hardened Linux operating system running on general purpose Intel/AMD-based hardware. Rather than relying on traditional proprietary hardware/software appliance structure, the UNP allows the administrator to select the appropriate network and security applications that run on each device. Rather than the “least common denominator” approach of combo network appliance solutions, the UNP gives the administrator the ability to choose the best solutions to operate on each UNP device within the network. Through this flexible approach, administrators can change, remove, or migrate various network and security functions between UNP devices to meet new business demands or changing network architectures. UNP utilizes a plug-n-play modular software architecture. Rather than being limited to the fixed set of options available in typical network appliances, UNP modules are installed, upgraded, or uninstalled at the discretion of the network administrator. UNP modules provide core networking functions, such as:

  • Routing
  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • WiFi
  • Other network services.

Security functions are also available through modules:

  • Firewall
  • VPN
  • Antivirus gateway
  • Additional security functions.

The true power of UNP lies in its expandability of both software and hardware. First, the UNP is an open platform, the core of which is a software framework for implementing, operating and managing network and security applications. This framework supports the services required of any UNP-compatible module. Since the UNP platform is open, administrators have full access to adapt, customize, and expand UNP to include the network, security, and applications services needed.

UNP modules can be sourced through a variety of means. A large body of open-source software is available today which can easily be adapted to UNP. Vendors already leveraging Linux can adapt proprietary product to operate on the UNP’s open software framework. Individuals can extend UNP through their own installation and customization of software.

Through this modular software architecture, any number of additional applications can be supported such as voice-over-IP (VoIP), email, file-sharing, printing, and Windows domain services. As new demands for network and security/applications occur, additional UNP modules can emerge to satisfy these needs.

Since UNP operates on GPCA technology, hardware is readily available. Rather than suffering the woes of over saturated appliances breaking under performance demands of running multiple network and security services, OTS hardware can be easily installed and upgraded. Cost-effective hardware can now replace costly proprietary hardware to increase the number of applications, improve performance capacity, and network throughput, or to take advantage of the latest hardware improvements and cost efficiencies. As mentioned above, GPCA hardware brings with it a high level of support from well established, global manufacturers.

The UNP operates on a pre-hardened Linux operating system. This provides an open foundation to customize network and security services, or add new networking and security functions. Network administrators can now take advantage of the wide range of network and security open-source solutions available and be assured of the stability and security of underlying UNP OS. This also removes the burden of setup and configuration traditionally experienced with 'build-it-from-scratch' Linux networking devices that administrators patched together in the past.

The UNP product concept can take advantage of virtual operating environments such as VMware or open-source Xen software. UNP operates on any platform that supports virtualization software. This means that dedicated hardware is no longer required in every case, and the network can be more flexibly configured or reconfigured to meet changing needs and network architectures. Simulating network configurations with limited hardware can easily be accomplished. New networks can be constructed immediately by virtualizing the network on one or more GPCA devices.

The unified network platform presents a new paradigm for addressing the needs of network and security functions. Breaking the mold of the proprietary vendor hardware appliance solutions, UNP provides an open platform architecture consisting of open software and general purpose hardware, enabling the convergence of network applications. Through the use of UNP, organizations can design, build, manage, and maintain secure networks without the limitations and expense of vendor proprietary hardware and software.

Examples include: SME Server, Zentyal, ClearOS, Microsoft Small Business Server and Edenwall.

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