Blue Coat Aims to Solve QOS Quandary

The new WAN acceleration software links knowledge of application traffic with QOS mechanisms in network switches and routers.

Blue Coat Systems on July 10 launched a new release of its WAN optimization/application acceleration software that fills in a missing piece of the quality of service puzzle.

Blue Coat, the content distribution network company formerly known as Cache Flow, linked the knowledge in its MACH 5 software about applications traffic traversing a network with the QOS mechanisms in network switches and routers.

Officials believe theyve hit a nerve with this capability because while such QOS mechanisms abound, few IT shops really know how to apply them.

"Most organizations dont use prioritization because they dont know how and things change too quickly," said Chris King, director of product marketing at Blue Coat in Sunnyvale, Calif.

While most packet shaping technologies perform pattern matching to determine which traffic to prioritize, Blue Coats MACH 5 is based on a proxy architecture.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about MACH 5, click here.

"We take a request in, terminate it and reissue it on behalf of the client to the server. When the server returns a response we do the exact same thing. Because of that we know the content, the request, whether something isnt conforming to a standard. We know the protocols being used, so we know all about it," King said.

Specifically, the proxy and cache technology gathers details on who the user is, what the application is, and the nature of the interaction between the two.

"We can see the difference between a person ordering a product for a customer sale versus a person downloading a report. We can stop a salesperson from downloading the customer list. We can get more granular and relevant to the business," King said.

Getting such a handle on the traffic traversing a network has been a problem for most IT shops for some time, believes Joe Skorupa, industry analyst at Gartner in Stamford, Conn.

"A lot of folks just dont have as good a feel for whats on their network as they should. QOS in routers has been there for a long time, but it tends to be coarse grained. And in spite of vendors claims that its easy to deploy, most people I talk to dont agree," he said.

Skorupa also agreed that not all traffic generated by a specific application is equal.

"It may be based on time of day or day of month. It might be sales placing orders and factories doing things to ship [products] for revenue. So there is a certain set of people and transactions that may be far more important to whats going on," he said.

MACH 5, which stands for Multiprotocol Accelerated Caching Hierarchy, can apply that knowledge to the QOS mechanisms in the network, essentially telling a router what is and what isnt a priority.

MACH 5, which uses five different acceleration techniques, works with Blue Coats SG family of acceleration and security appliances. The new release is due in August.

Blue Coat in June announced its intent to acquire the NetCache business from Network Appliance.

The deal calls for Blue Coat to acquire the NetCache product line as well as a number of patents and applications for patents that Network Appliance has for streaming technologies.

The NetCache product line is also proxy-based.

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