WAN optimization provider Blue Coat Systems on March 20 updated the software for its appliances that broadens the range of performance techniques and applications that can be accelerated.
Blue Coat, formerly know as content distribution network provider Cache Flow, launched its MACH 5 software release, adding new bandwidth management, protocol optimizations, object caching, byte caching and compression to the appliances.
The MACH 5 launch also further extends the companys shift toward performance management from the Web security offerings it had been selling.
"A year ago we started seeing enterprises webify everything and consolidate data centers and servers," said Steve Mullaney, vice president of marketing at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.
At the same time, more and more users are moving out of corporate headquarters into remote locations. Both trends require that performance is acceptable, he added.
Mullaney believes that the MACH 5 technology sets Blue Coat apart because it is the only WAN optimization technology that accelerates both internal and externally-hosted applications that use encrypted SSL communication.
MACH 5, which stands for Multiprotocol Accelerated Caching Hierarchy, also extends application acceleration to a range of applications types, unlike WAFS (wide area file systems) accelerators that focus specifically on file server applications that use CIFS (Common Internet File System).
The SSL acceleration and support for a range of application types was key to users at Richardson Partners Financial Ltd., a financial services firm in Winnipeg.
"More and more you need to have SSL-based applications and just fast applications, regardless of the protocol," said Andrew McKinney, director of technical services at the companys data center in Toronto.
The MACH 5 framework accelerates HTTP, e-mail systems using Messaging Application Programming Interface, video streaming and video-on-demand applications as well as encrypted SSL traffic.
Along with the five acceleration techniques, the software also extends policy-based control over the type of traffic allowed onto the corporate network. It provides several options for handling SSL interactions and prohibits unauthorized applications from accessing the network.
McKinneys IT shop evaluated a wide range of offerings, but found many of them came up short.
"We use a Sharepoint document management solution, so CIFS was not a big win for us. Riverbed would only accelerate non-encrypted traffic. We also knew we only wanted the right traffic to make it into the firm and wanted to insure mission-critical applications got top priority over Web surfing. And we wanted to be able to implement caching," he said.
And even though Richard Partners Financial is a Cisco shop, Ciscos more limited WAFS offering did not meet the companys needs.
"Ciscos product line is well-known to us. If we dont think theyre the best in every product we wont just go with it. Just because its a safe decision doesnt mean its the right decision and I felt comfortable going with Blue Coat," he said.
MACH 5 will be available with the next version of Blue Coats SGOS 5 software release, which is due in April. The software runs on the companys branch office and data center appliances, which range from $1,995 to over $100,000, according to Mullaney.