RealTime IT News

Accelerating Accelerated Traffic

WAN acceleration is getting a lot of attention, because enterprises are more than ever faced with the problem of sharing applications and backup operations across disparate locations. This week, many vendors will addressing that issue as they pitch their WAN acceleration wares at the Interop show in New York.

And two of the biggest vendors will promise even faster acceleration for an even wider range of network traffic.

Riverbed's Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) version 4.1 further accelerates the company's acceleration capabilities for enterprise applications.

Apurva Dave, director of product marketing at Riverbed, told InternetNews.com that RiOS uses a Linux kernel as a base and then Riverbed hardens it and adds network acceleration optimization features on top.

Riverbed's latest release focuses specifically on optimizing disaster-recovery traffic. Dave said enterprises use Riverbed technology in tandem with their backup infrastructure technology in order to expedite both the time it takes to mirror data and to recover it in the event of a disaster.

"Our technology can recognize the difference between your standard file, e-mail and Web traffic you might be accelerating and identify what would be a heavy-load, data replication backup job," Dave explained. "Based on that intelligent recognition of traffic, we can modify the way we use our data reduction and compression in order to get better performance."

Riverbed's new release also offers the promise of better acceleration for users of Oracle 11i database.

"When you load a browser and go to an Oracle URL in order to access the application, it loads a Web plug-in called Jinitiator and all the data requests go through it," Dave said. "Riverbed now intercepts that traffic, unscrambles it and optimizes it."

Juniper Networks also bent on optimization this week with WX software version 5.5, which focuses on accelerating SSL -encrypted traffic.

"We have always been able to accelerate SSL traffic, but the reality is without fully understanding SSL, the benefits were minimal; you might have got 5 to 15 percent improvement," Tim Richards, senior product manager of WAN acceleration at Juniper, told InternetNews.com.

"But to really get the big bang in terms of acceleration levels of 20 times performance improvement, you really need to understand SSL and be able to decrypt it and take a look at the payload in order to get the real benefits."

And that's where Juniper's AppFlow for SSL fills a gap. The product is supposed to provide full acceleration of SSL-encrypted traffic across the WAN. Richards also noted that Juniper will tie in the SSL-encrypted traffic to its IDS/IPS (Intrusion Detection/Prevention System) in order to ensure that the traffic complies with network policy.

Juniper is also taking aim at accelerating traffic for Microsoft's Windows Vista clients. One of the reasons network acceleration is necessary in the first place is because Windows typically has had a lot of extra noise in its protocols that could slow traffic.

In Vista, Microsoft has optimized its CIFS (common Internet file system) , as well as its core TCP stack. Juniper, in turn, is now providing new optimizations that further build on what Microsoft has already improved in Vista.

Riverbed's Dave said the company has not released any detailed plans, but he did say that the opportunity for acceleration is massive and that Riverbed's focus is on making things happen.

In contrast, Juniper Network does have a roadmap for its acceleration platform that will include the acceleration technology as a module on Juniper's SSG modular router line.

Juniper's Richards argued that accelerating application performance across the WAN isn't always about pure WAN acceleration. "We've found that we can drive greater performance through the WAN than the LAN infrastructure can deal with," Richards said.

"We think that the broader Juniper portfolio of high-performance networking is a specific and strategic strength. We not only deliver on WAN acceleration, but if they have problems in other areas of the network we can work with them on those."