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Packeteer offers free WAN evals

Fighting the app-independent tide with video plug-ins

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WAN optimisation specialist Packeteer is offering free WAN application performance evaluations, plus software to track video usage over the network.

The evaluation service involves plugging one of the company's PacketShaper appliances into an organisation's WAN connection to automatically discover which applications are running, their response times and how much bandwidth they're consuming.

"It's the kind of thing delivered in WAN probes such as NetScout or Network General Sniffer, but those are only recently adding Layer 7 capabilities," said Packeteer CEO Dave Cote. He claimed that Packeteer's analysis provided more granularity and depth than either WAN probes or other WAN optimisation appliances.

According to Cote, a single PacketShaper can identify and classify over 600 applications and protocols. When used in pairs at either end of a WAN connection, the devices can use this information to accelerate network traffic, prioritise some applications while limiting the bandwidth available to others, and reduce latency.

Packeteer also announced software modules that enable PacketShaper to identify and manage Flash-based IP video streams from sources such as YouTube, VideoGoogle, MySpace, ABC, and ESPN, plus online TV channels and podcasts.

Cot said that with video increasingly being used for business as well as for amusement, it is vital to classify it accurately. That means understanding what applications are running on the network, not merely what protocols or ports are in use.

"An awful lot of our competitors accelerate certain applications but without knowledge of the other applications running on the network," he claimed.

"We're talking about a step before that - to discover what's running on the network. At most, the others are doing port-level identification. We go a step further, not only checking at layer 7 that it's really Oracle, say, and not something else spoofing Oracle, but we can even identify the traffic by database name."

Cote had harsh words too for those WAN optimisation vendors - such as Silver Peak and the Citrix-owned Orbital Data - who say they don't need application-specific modules because they can optimise all traffic.

"Saying 'We accelerate everything' is wrong. If you do it indiscriminately, you may also be accelerating iTunes or a worm, say. Or if you accelerate a big file attachment and the same network is running your SAP, your critical business application might get crushed by your email."®

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