WAN With Intelligence?

Being fast isn’t good enough for WAN optimization vendor Packeteer Networks.

It wants to be fast and smart with its new Intelligent Service Assurance architecture, which the vendor hopes will take the WAN acceleration market to the next level.

“The industry is focused on optimization and there are different pieces out there looking to optimize performance and certain islands of capabilities with a limited but slowly increasing degree of intelligence,” Mark Urban, director of product marketing at Packeteer, told InternetNews.com.
“The Valhalla of intelligent service assurance is when the view is all integrated end-to-to end and when you can deliver the service from any point A to any point B at anytime with high performance.”

At the heart of Packeteer’s new strategy is a product called intelligence center, which provides the ability to identity services and applications as well as monitor and create configurations to optimize end-to-end traffic.

Then there’s the mobile side of the company’s strategy. Packeteer is rolling out a new Mobility 8.0 wireless optimization suite of applications. The goal: extend the full benefits of acceleration to non-wired users. Urban claimed that Mobility 8.0 goes beyond file caching acceleration and provides byte level caching for any type of application that traverses the TCP/IP protocol.

Packeteer’s Project Turbo is another new effort to further accelerate traffic across a broad range of applications. Urban commented that Packeteer has sophisticated application identification technologies and they’re now applying to Packeteer’s PacketShaper appliances to further accelerate application traffic.

“Turbo acts as a turbo charger,” Urban said. “What this does is it discovers applications on the network and it shapes the performance.”

Urban argued that Packeteer’s ability to both monitor, identify and optimize traffic under a single system umbrella is a key value proposition that Packeteer now provides to enterprises.

The market for WAN acceleration is a very competitive one with vendors large and small all vying for a piece. In October, Riverbed and Juniper Networks both launched new optimization technologies. Both promise new levels of traffic acceleration.

Last week networking vendor Blue Coat rolled out its latest acceleration release with extended user authentication capabilities for its WAN optimization products. Jonathon Cervelli, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Blue Coat doesn’t see Packeteer as his principal competition; rather he sees Riverbed and Cisco as the primary competitors.

“Packeteer is focused primarily on bandwidth management,” Cervelli said.
“While that is a feature of our MACH5 technology for WAN Optimization, we and most analysts believe far more is required.”

Packeteer’s Urban doesn’t agree with Blue Coat’s assessments of Packeteer.

“That’s how competitors like to paint us,” Urban said. “You have the challenge of point players who grew up in acceleration and have stopped there. Packeteer though we started many years ago in bandwidth management we’ve added world class acceleration, caching and performance technologies.”

In 2006, Packeteer bought optimization vendor Tacit for $78 million. Earlier this year one of the fruits of that acquisition was announced in the form of Packeteer’s Branch Office Box the iShaper appliance.

In Urban’s view the biggest barrier to adoption for Packeteer’s products is that fact that there is so much smoke in the industry today from vendors’
marketing messages.

“The challenge is that there are a half dozen vendors out there that have protocol acceleration, caching and compression and to them that’s the one pill that prescribed for every problem and that’s not enough,” Urban said.
“There is no one silver bullet despite a lot of the marketing that goes on.

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