Web caching tech boosts network performance 400%

Transfering the approach to the enterprise

Networking firm Expand Networks is trying to extend the benefits of Web caching to all enterprise data traffic with appliances it claims can boost network performance by as much as 400 per cent.

Expand's Accelerator product line works with a variety of network configurations including ADSL, ISDN, Managed Frame Relay and Wireless environments, boosting the capacity and speed on these connections by between 100 to 400 percent, according to Expand.

The firm recently announced the launch of the beta version of its new operating system, ExpandOS 4.0, which supports Lan-based security services and scalability beyond 2Mbps with rack and stack boxes.

The idea of Web caching, pioneered by such firms as Inktomi, Cacheflow et al, is now well established and applying the similar ideas to optimise WAN connections seems to makes sense.

In a Web cache commonly requested web pages are held locally, and the technology will try to service user requests from pages held in the cache before looking for information at a remote site.

Similarly by placing Accelerator boxes at both ends of a private line, the units adapt to network patterns and protocols to locally store commonly transmitted patterns of data, which are represented by a token. When the local cache sees this pattern of information again (which Expand's regional manager Scott Dobson said could be anything from corporate expenses spreadsheets to VoIP headers) the Accelerator sends only a representation token to a remote site, where data is transformed back to its original form.

The technique won't work for encrypted data and two units (priced at around $12,500 a go) are required, nonetheless Expand's approach has been well received by a number of customers including Motorola, Texas Instruments and the United States Department of Defense. Expand is also targeting telecom resellers and ISPs in marketing its technology. ®

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