A Network Appliance is a specialized device for use on a network, and with the appropriate software, is generally dedicated to a single function and cannot do anything else.
A Network Security Appliance is any form of server or network appliance that is designed to protect computer networks from malicious activities or unwanted traffic. They can be active devices that block unwanted traffic, like firewalls, anti-virus scanning and content filtering devices. They can be passive devices that just monitor the network for malicious activities and/or unwanted traffic, detect and report them to a management system, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS). They can be preventative devices that scan networks and identify potential security problems, and then actively prevent or block them, like an intrusion prevention system (IPS). Or they can be Unified Threat Management appliances that combine features together into an all-in-one network security appliance, like a network access controller (NAC).
Because of the importance of Network Security Appliances and the role they play in a data center or central office environment, there are two certifications that are very important to these dedicated systems. One is the Network Equipment-Building System (NEBS) certification and the other is the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS).
NEBS is a set of safety, spatial, environmental and industry design requirements applied to equipment or devices that are installed in a United States telecommunications (or Regional Bell Operating Company [RBOC]) central office.
FIPS 140-2 are standards developed by the U.S government, which set requirements for cryptographic modules that can be both hardware and software components for use by United States government departments and agencies.
AIC Network Platform Solutions are NEBS and/or FIPS ready. They come in 1RU and 2RU form factors, support single or dual Intel processors, and offer maximum PCI Express expandability. Network security appliance manufacturers looking for robust solutions with extended product availability can utilize these AIC solutions as building blocks.