With Web site applications becoming increasingly critical to enterprise customers and their internal users, traffic management is no longer the exclusive purview of network administrators. Systems managers have a growing stake in how traffic is routed over the Internet.
RouteScience Technologies Inc. this week will launch software that can improve the availability and performance of Web applications. Rather than just monitoring and reporting on network troubles—such as latency, packet loss and jitter—RouteSciences Adaptive Networking Software Version 5 applies the network service needs of applications to determine the best path, based on set policies.
The software moves traffic to the lowest-cost path suitable to the application, not only saving enterprises money but also giving them leverage to negotiate better rates from their ISPs.
Sutter Health deployed Version 3 of the software about a year ago for Internet traffic only, said Scott Jester, senior network engineer at the not-for-profit network of health care workers and services in Sacramento, Calif.
Sutter Healths Web applications are used internally and externally by doctors, nurses and patients who want to retrieve information such as test results. Jester said he wanted a deeper, more immediate view into how traffic patterns affect the user experience.
"Somebody might say this Web page is slow, or it isnt working, and we can go in at a glance and see whats going on," Jester said. "If, all of a sudden, we have all this SQL traffic, is it a worm, a virus, or is it legitimate?"
Because the applications are critical to doctors and customers, Sutter Health works with two ISPs to ensure redundant connections to its data center. While the redundancy provides continuous availability, it does not ensure optimal performance, which is why the company turned to RouteScience. "This helps ensure the best user experience," Jester said.
Sutter Health uses Adaptive Networking Software just for Internet traffic, but RouteScience touts the product for all types of applications that run over a corporate WAN. The software takes into account the tolerance that bulk applications such as e-mail have and the high sensitivity to jitter that applications such as voice over IP have, said Mike Lloyd, chief technology officer at RouteScience, in San Mateo, Calif.
"What is good for one application type may be bad for another," Lloyd said. "Latency, loss and jitter may not actually cause a business problem. These measures have to be factored into how they affect the transport layer."