Brocade, Blue Coat Develop Tool to Monitor Network Health

Based on Brocade's ServerIron ADX application delivery controllers and Blue Coat's CacheFlow 5000 appliances, the system proactively monitors bandwidth consumption and network health.

Brocade and Blue Coast Systems jointly announced an appliance to proactively monitor the virtual health of an enterprise network on Oct. 13. The system's monitoring capabilities are specific to Web caching, the companies said in a statement.

The network health monitoring product consists of Brocade's ServerIron ADX application delivery controllers as an intelligent front end to Blue Coat's CacheFlow 5000 appliances, Blue Coat said. The Brocade ADCs can direct all inbound subscriber requests to optimize performance.

With the explosion of rich media content, such as large data files and online video, telecommunications carriers and service providers need to manage bandwidth demand. The biggest challenge, however, is ensuring that the quality and speed of the media content, such as streaming video, remain high without slowing down or disrupting other applications running on the same network.

"Building on our long-standing partnership, we created a joint solution that enables service providers to maximize their network application efficiency, reduce infrastructure costs and proactively address spikes in network traffic patterns, while protecting customers' investments for future scalability and growth," said Bob Braham, vice president of Brocade's Integrated Marketing.

The integrated system monitors network health proactively against traffic fluctuations. The combined product creates a buffer around the network to defend against unpredicted traffic spikes that occur online or because of a surge in interest for specific content. Spikes are often observed for certain sports or political coverage and major news events.

Service providers can reduce bandwidth usage by up to 50 percent of Web traffic, the company said.

Working together, Brocade and Blue Coat have rolled out a simplified and unified system that distributes network traffic within a Blue Coat cache farm. The system simultaneously monitors the network load and each Blue Coat appliance's available capacity and traffic patterns, the company said. If the ADC detects a problem in CacheFlow, it redirects traffic.

Each system helps boost network efficiency and provide non-stop networking. For Web caching applications that focus on bandwidth savings, this will be critical to enhancing the end user's Web experience.

"Proactive health monitoring is essential as Web caching becomes an increasingly critical component of a carrier's infrastructure," said Darrell Long, vice president and general manager of Blue Coat's CacheFlow Business unit.

While the companies have worked together for years and have made significant investment in each other's technologies, this is the first joint product arising from the partnership. They have invested in Brocade's ServerIron switches and Blue Coat's CacheFlow boxes to reduce infrastructure costs and bandwidth consumption.

"The joint development between Brocade and Blue Coat represents a significant leap forward in how core Web infrastructure, such as switching and caching, is managed," said Braham.

The updates to ServerIronx ADX and CacheFlow 5000 appliances are available immediately as a software update, said Jeff Brainard, Blue Coat's director of Service Provider Products. Existing customers for the Brocade switch and Blue Coat appliance can access the new network health monitoring features by simply updating their hardware. New customers will work with the companies' channel partners, according to Brainard.

"With the industry's first integrated switching and caching solution for health monitoring, we can raise the level of reliability and scalability available to carriers, help deliver an improved Web user experience and significantly reduce bandwidth consumption," said Long.