Dave C�t�, CEO, Packeteer

Dave Cote
So you’re a feisty company in a burgeoning market loaded with tough
competition, including Cisco Systems . What do you do to rise above the rest of the field? If you’re Packeteer Networks , you buy a company with ties to Microsoft .


Packeteer bought
Tacit Networks last year, inheriting Windows-based wide-area network (WAN)
optimization technology that helps improve the performance and
security of applications as they traverse networks.


Recently, Packeteer and Microsoft launched
the first iShaper appliance designed to speed up and secure data in the
corporate office using native Microsoft application services.


Nicknamed the “Branch Office Box,” iShaper is designed to improve the
performance of applications that deliver data, voice and video traffic in
corporations, particularly businesses with several branches or remote sites.


The machine features intelligent tools to distinguish between recreational
and critical video over the Web at a time when corporate bandwidth clogging
is an issue.

Packeteer CEO Dave Côté chatted with internetnews.com about the
company’s technology, the competition and the future of the WAN optimization
market.

Q: How has the WAN optimization market changed in recent months? Is the
iShaper product reflective of any changes?


While a lot of the attention is on acceleration technologies, we really
think it represents a platform for us to build from. We believe acceleration
is not enough. You may solve one problem, but it’s not sufficient.

Tapping
into and being part of the infrastructure of our customers’ branch
environments, such as Microsoft systems, is important. Ninety-plus percent of
how people deliver their fundamental infrastructure to their branches is
through Microsoft.

Being able to deliver Microsoft services through iShaper
in an integrated fashion, and understanding each other’s roadmaps and the
value that Microsoft is bringing in the platform and allowing us to build on
top of that with our networking expertise delivers not just best in breed,
but a comprehensive solution for our enterprise customers.


Q: You mentioned that competitors are focusing on acceleration, intimating
that Packeteer has a more holistic view of WAN optimization. How would you
differentiate the iShaper from products from rivals Blue Coat Systems  and Riverbed Technology ?


We start with intelligence. We start with that understanding of what
applications are running on the network. Not just enabling the tools on our
box but giving our customers insight into how and what applications are
being delivered across their network.

It also absolutely enables us to help
them use the right tool. SAP transactions are not an acceleration issue. They’re typically a congestion issue, so using application-oriented quality
of service to prioritize SAP transactions over other traffic enables you to
deliver that application while accelerating your file applications. But you
don’t allow that accelerated file traffic to overrun your SAP application.

We also have the ability to work with voice and video. Again, the issue
there is guaranteed bandwidth. You don’t want something to overrun that
traffic, because you want to make sure you guarantee the amount of bandwidth
to maintain voice quality. Same with video, but it’s a bigger bandwidth
requirement.


Q: So YouTube helps your business because its videos clog up corporate
networks?


Video bandwidth is a very big issue and is a bigger issue than voice
because voice is pretty homogenous. If you want to deliver voice calls, you
don’t get into whether it’s a voice call that’s driving your business or
whether it’s a call to you grandmother. The technology is not going to
differentiate that. It’s going to be your company policies, etc.

Video is quite different. Next to YouTube and MySpace, there’s also video
conferencing. If you can’t differentiate between those two things, then you
can’t manage your mission-critical video versus your recreational or even
problematic video.


Therein is one of the differences between what we’re offering and the other
players, because our intelligence layer differentiates the different voice
codecs, video player, as well as the different URLS, and really gives our
customers a tool to set policies that will manage their traffic the way
they’d like to. Not just to allow or deny access, but to provide granularity
where you may allow a certain amount of video player because some of that
may be listening to an important webcast.

But that’s not mission critical
compared to your video teleconference to all of your sites in Asia. You want
to guarantee that performance.


Q: Video is obviously a current challenge. What will the future hold for the WAN optimization market five to 10 years down the road?


It may seem a little presumptuous, but it is the model that
we’ve been following. You have to be able to deal with all of the different
applications and traffic types that traverse people’s networks. I don’t
think that problem is going to change.

People are going to want to deliver
more and different types of applications and data over their networks to
more and different branch locations. That is the fundamental challenge.

As
we look back 10 years ago, e-mail and Internet were brand new on the scene.
Then thin client applications like Citrix came along to help. With the rise
of the Internet we began to see problems associated with recreational and
malicious traffic.


We added business Web applications. SAP went from being a client/server app
to being a Web-oriented app. Now we’re looking at files. The current wave
that everyone is looking at is how to deal with files and bulk transfers.

We
just talked about video, which, while important in the press, is not a
dominant traffic type yet. But it’s becoming that. What’s next?

The whole
world of service-oriented architectures, more unified communications, more
Web services. Five years from now, people will have to deal holistically
with the traffic they’re trying to deliver to their branch offices and remote
sites. More and more of that traffic is going to be coming from the outside:
from other partners, suppliers, customers. So it isn’t only what’s going on
in their own datacenters, but also what’s going on in and between their
branches and the extended enterprise.

They have to deal with those
applications. I don’t know what the market will be called five years from
now, but the problem won’t get easier.


Q: How do you intend to compete with Cisco Systems, which seems to loom over
everyone in this market?


Cisco is probably the No. 1 largest strategic competitor. While we take the
other players seriously in the long term, it is companies like Cisco that
represent the biggest challenge and threat to us.

On the other hand, we look
at this problem holistically and as a system. I think we’ve tried to extend
that notion with our partnership with Microsoft into the entire branch
infrastructure. We think of what we do as an intelligent overlay that sits
on top of the switch-routed infrastructure to deliver this intelligence that
relates to the dynamic nature of the applications that people are trying to
deliver.

In that context, the delivery of this as a system represents an
advantage that is not trivial. Cisco can buy their way into almost anything,
but at the end of the day if they don’t deliver a holistic solution that
customers can implement in a straightforward way across all of their
applications, that is not a simple challenge to overcome.

News Around the Web