Colt taps Adva to batten down encryption across its Ethernet portfolio

Colt is using Adva's MACsec technology for its Ethernet Line Encryption service. (Pixabay)

With more workloads in the cloud and stricter regulatory requirements for data protection, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), encryption is a "must have" for service providers and their customers.

On that note, Colt Technology Services announced on Thursday that it's using encryption technology from Adva to deliver a low-latency, end-to-end security service across its Ethernet portfolio.

Colt is using Adva's FSP 150 with Connect Guard Ethernet security technology for its Ethernet Line Encryption service. Ethernet Line Encryption, which is a Layer 2 encryption service, is available across the entire Colt IQ Network, which includes Europe, North America and Asia. The add-on service to Colt's Ethernet offerings covers metro, national and Ethernet line circuits.

The Ethernet Line Encryption service provides a safeguard for Colt's Ethernet services, and serves as a means to meet strict new regulatory requirements.

"With all of the regulations being imposed on enterprises—for example, the whole GDPR in the EU—it gets more and more important for companies and enterprises to make sure they can show they are doing everything to keep their data safe," said Colt Technology Services' Peter Coppens, vice president of product portfolio. "Of course it's not very easy to show that, but a good way to demonstrate it is if you are encrypting the Ethernet traffic. In the past we didn't have a standard capability at the Ethernet layer."

Coppens said Colt has been doing encryption on the IP layer for some time using IPSec network protocol, but IPSec has limitations.

"It doesn't scale very well," Coppens said. "It's quite costly if you go to high to bandwidths, and it doesn't scale very well in terms of performance. It can also add delay.

"So, now, on the Ethernet product we have introduced this capability for an enterprise to ask for an additional feature, which is the end to end encryption at line rate. So this can be at 100 Meg, 1G and 10G. It doesn't impact the performance and the throughput of the service."

Adva's Connect Guard Ethernet technology uses MACsec to encrypt network traffic that runs on top of Ethernet service.  Coppens said that while IPSec works well on the IP layer, "the more you go to the lower levels of the network the less IPSec works."

"MACsec is a protocol capability and the real benefit there is scalability versus high bandwidth," Coppens explained. "We can now do 10Gigs without impacting the performance. It only adds microseconds of delay and you can't even see that."

Coppens said Colt has had encryption in place for a while now on the optical side using technology from Ciena.

He added that Colt, which was ranked second on Vertical Systems Group's most recent 2018 Global Provider Ethernet Leaderboard behind AT&T, has some customers in the buying process for its Ethernet Line Encryption service.

Colt got down to the brass tacks of working with Adva on the encryption service at the start of this year, according to Coppens.

 "We had to test the equipment and make sure our support team was ready, that our people knew what it's about," Coppens said. "We have trained our sales teams, so now we're ready to launch this."

Since the encryption-as-a-service is an add-on to Colt's Ethernet services, Coppens said the pricing model is straightforward.

RELATED: Colt launches On Demand services in U.S. and other countries

GPDR has been implemented across the European Union for just over a year. The verticals that are impacted the most by GDPR are the ones that deal with sensitive data, including the financial, healthcare and government sectors.

While not all GDPR infringements lead to fines, an infringement could result in administrative fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million – whichever is greater.

"GDPR is getting a lot broader than in the past, and it has definitely woken up more enterprises," Coppens said. "Now we do see a much broader demand coming from GDPR."

Colt announced last year it was working with Adva on its new universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) platform, which is slated to launch this year.