Crossbeam Systems

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Industry Network security
Founded 1999
Headquarters Boxborough, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Greg Clark, CEO
Products X-Series X20
X-Series X30
X-Series X40
X-Series X45
X-Series X50
X-Series X60
X-Series X80
Number of employees

Crossbeam Systems is headquartered in Boxborough, Massachusetts and has offices in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Crossbeam Systems was acquired by Blue Coat Systems in December 2012 and the Crossbeam brand has been fully absorbed into Blue Coat. The company made open, high-performance hardware and software network security platform that was designed to deploy network security applications from third-party security software vendors (including McAfee, Sourcefire, Trend Micro, Websense, Check Point, IBM, Imperva, Actiance and Sophos) within large networking environments, including enterprises, service providers and government agencies. The industries that Crossbeam serves include energy[1], financial services[2], government, healthcare, higher education [3], managed/ service providers[4] and mobile operators [5]

Company History[edit]

Crossbeam Systems was acquired by Blue Coat Systems in December 2012 and the Crossbeam brand has been fully absorbed into Blue Coat.

Crossbeam Systems, Inc. was incorporated on November 23, 1999 by Stephen Justus and Mike Akerman, with Throop Wilder joining as a founding team member in 2000 [6] . Since the beginning, Crossbeam has been focused on designing and manufacturing a range of very high-performance network security platforms, with the philosophy that security solutions should be open and offer choice [7] to the customer in the security applications they use. Today, Crossbeam is the only manufacturer of a dedicated open network security platform. In October 2011, Crossbeam introduced its own blog site dedicated to rethinking networking concepts. RethinkTheNetwork

Peter George led the company from 2001 to June 2007 as CEO and president. Pete Fiore took over the company in 2007 and led the company to growth and profitability until his death in December 2009. Mike Ruffolo joined Crossbeam [8] in March 2010 and continues today as CEO and president.

On November 9, 2012, Crossbeam Systems Inc. was acquired by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo. The company did not publicly disclose the acquisition price or the terms of the deal.

On December 17, 2012, Blue Coat Systems announced that it was acquiring Crossbeam Systems. The deal is expected to close December 31, 2012.


The company’s key innovation is its X-Series network security platform [9], which was introduced in September 2001 as a way for telecommunications operators to consolidate their security server or appliance infrastructure into one chassis, which acts as a virtual security architecture [10] or ‘network in a box.’ The X-Series architecture consists of five major components including a chassis, an operating system and three types of hardware blades or modules:

– Network Processor Module (NPM)
– Control Processor Module (CPM)
– Application Processor Module (APM)

Over the past 11-plus years, the X-Series platform, including the modules and operating systems, have gone through six major generational upgrades. In October 2010, Crossbeam announced the 5th generation upgrade [11] to its X-Series family of network security platforms to include the X20, X30, X60 and X80-S. In October 2011, Crossbeam completed the portfolio with the new X50 enterprise data-center platform [12] and added the 6th generation Network Processor Module; the NPM-9610 and NPM-9650. [13]

As an independent validation of the 6th generation X-Series platform performance, Crossbeam, together with Spirent, European Advanced Network Test Centre (EANTC) and Heavy Reading set out to create a new real-world methodology for testing network security in the GPRS and 4G-LTE mobile operator network. This methodology was then independently tested [14] by EANTC on the Crossbeam X80-S platform.

X-Series Chassis[edit]

Chassis Type Module Slots Lifecycle
X20 4-Slot 2010–Present
X30 4-Slot 2010–Present
X40 14-Slot Replaced by X80
X45 7-Slot Replaced by X60
X50 4-Slot 2011–Present
X60 7-Slot 2010–Present
X80 14-Slot 2001–Present

X-Series Modules[edit]

Generation Network Processor Modules Application Processor Modules Control Processor Modules
1st (2001) NPM 4100 APM 4200 CPM 4100
2nd (2003) NPM 8100 APM 8200 CPM 8100
3rd (2005) NPM 8200 APM 8400 CPM 8400
4th (2007) NPM 8600 APM 8600 CPM 8600
5th (2009) NPM 8620/50 APM 8650
6th (2010/11) NPM 9610/50 APM 9600 CPM 9600
7th (2015) NPM {TBA} APM X700 CPM X700

X-Series Operating System (XOS)[edit]

The component technologies are tied together by a specialized Linux-based operating system called XOS that provides the ability to run several applications together in series or parallel and allows a single application to run across any number of processor cores or APM blades.

Major XOS Version Ship Date
11.0.0 April 2015
10.0 March 2014
9.6.4 June 2014
9.6.3 July 2012
9.6 November 2011
9.5 November 2010
9.0 April 2010
8.5 October 2009
8.1 January 2009
8.0 March 2008
7.2 August 2007
7.0 November 2006
6.0 November 2005

C-Series (2004–2010)[edit]

Similar to the X-Series, the Crossbeam C-Series provided the ability to deploy any certified security application, but was limited to one application per appliance and had a fixed form factor. The C-Series ran a different operating system to the X-Series, called COS. The C-Series was discontinued in 2010.

Major COS Version Ship Date
6.2 December 2009
6.1 March 2008
6.0 July 2007
5.1 February 2007
4.0 February 2006


Crossbeam’s business model is to partner with third-party security vendors, allowing customers to run multiple security applications [15] on a single X-Series platform. Customers can choose to install any number of active and certified products onto the X-Series platform.

Partner Product Certified to run on Crossbeam Partnership Status
Enterasys Dragon IDS/IPS Not Active
Secure Computing SmartFilter Now McAfee
McAfee Firewall Enterprise Active
Sourcefire IPS, RNA Active
Trend Micro IMSS, IWSS Active
Websense Web Security Suite Active
Check Point FireWall-1, NGX, VPN-1 NGX, FireWall-1 GX, Power-1 VSX, Security Gateway Active
IBM Proventia IPS Active
Imperva SecureSphere Active
Actiance USG Active
Sophos PureMessage Active
Sophos PureMessage Active


Crossbeam Systems, Inc. dropped ‘Systems’ from day-to-day operations in March 2010 when it rebranded the company with a new look. A new logo was introduced.

Company tag lines:

2005–2008 Safer, Simpler Networks
2008–2010 Consolidation. Virtualization. Simple. Security
2010 – Rethink the network

Current Customers[edit]

Select Crossbeam customers include:

• Axpo Informatik AG
Baylor University
• Centrica
• Cox Communications
• Fiserv
• NTT Communications
• Portugal Telecom (PT)
• Scottrade
Sportsbet [16]
• Telefónica UK
• Telekomunikacja Polska
• Temple University
• The Weather Channel
• Wincor Nixdorf
• Volkswagen Group
• Globe Telecom
• Sify Technologies
• Glaxo Smith Kline UK
RMIT University


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Crossbeam a patent in December 2010 for its approach to network security services delivery. Specifically, Crossbeam was awarded a patent for the underlying architecture of its X-Series platform, which provides a method for distributing applications and services in and throughout a network.


  1. ^ Crossbeam website, “Energy: securing energy using less energy
  2. ^, “Network security infrastructure consolidation: What's your strategy?” 26 October, 2010
  3. ^ EdTech, “High Availability Benefits from Virtualization,” May 2010,
  4. ^ TMCNet, “Crossbeam Systems Helps BT Strengthen Virtualized Security Offering
  5. ^ InfoSecurity, “O2 taps Crossbeam for mobile data security,” 2 February 2010
  6. ^ Bloomberg Businessweek, “Crossbeam Systems
  7. ^ TMCNet, “Open Platform Security Company Crossbeam Explains its Qualifications Sims,” 19 November, 2010
  8. ^ SC Magazine, “Company news: Michael Ruffolo named CEO at Crossbeam, plus changes at Fidelis and Symantec,” 4 May, 2010
  9. ^ Crossbeam website, “Products: X-Series Family
  10. ^ ISP-Planet, “Crossbeam Systems: Crossbeam's X-Series Security Platform is designed to provide a security architecture in a box,” 21 January, 2009
  11. ^ CTOEdge, “Crossbeam Extends Security Platform Lineup,” 4 October, 2010
  12. ^ Converge Network Digest, "Crossbeam Scales Security to 640Gbps", 12 October 2011
  13. ^ "Crossbeam Announces Massively Scalable Security Platform" 12 October 2011
  14. ^ Tech Target "Network security test: Crossbeam secures 1 million simultaneous users
  15. ^ Network Computing, “Crossbeam Launches New Hardware To Run Multiple Security Apps,” 5 October, 2010
  16. ^ Computerworld, “Sportsbet gables DDoS attack, wins,” 12 April, 2011