Expand Launches Accelerator Appliances

The application traffic management provider expands in several directions with the next generation of its data center and branch office accelerator appliances, a new software-based accelerator, and a more modular version of its software.

Application traffic management provider Expand Networks today will do just as its name suggests—expand in several directions—when it launches the next generation of its data center and branch office accelerator appliances, a new software-based accelerator, and a more modular version of its software.

The Roseland, N.J., company will try to build on its growing success as a next-generation compression provider by focusing more closely on application-specific performance issues that it can resolve—without labor-intensive policy creation.

The need to make more efficient use of expensive WAN links is growing as enterprises become more distributed, and as they deliver more complex, multi-tiered applications to those remote sites, according to Pedro Colaco, vice president of marketing at the firm.

"Web applications such as iNotes, mySAP and others are very chatty and very interactive on the WAN. With (multiple) DNS requests and downloading applets, it creates a latency and packet loss problem," he said. "Whats needed is a new technology were calling application-specific acceleration that zooms in on a Citrix application and removes response time issues like applet downloads that go over and over and over," he added.

Out of the gate, Expand chose to focus on application-specific plug-ins for "Webified" applications, home grown portal Web services, software distribution issues associated with patches and anti-virus updates as well as largely distributed organizations that require TCP acceleration. The re-architected Accelerator Software Version 5 can accept application-specific plug-ins for HTTP-based Web applications, encrypted HTTPS traffic and DNS traffic, as well as plug-ins that optimize FTP and TCP traffic.

"Every time a user goes out and looks for something [on the Web], there is a DNS request. There are thousands of them. Caching them locally will keep a lot of [traffic] off the wire. Thats great," said Expand user Clay Hemphill, network architect at Continental Airlines in Houston.

Expand is also caching HTTP and HTTPS traffic at the edge, with accelerators "at both ends of the pipe, so that the latency between the client and the application becomes the latency between the client and the accelerator," said Colaco.

In optimizing TCP traffic, Expands new architecture exploits NASAs Space Communications Protocol Standard, which removes TCP inefficiencies "so that opening e-mail attachments at the branch or performing a network backup can run up to 10 times faster," said Colaco. The FTP plug-in keeps local copies of frequently accessed files to speed file transfer.

The software runs on a new generation of Expand appliances for remote sites and data centers. A pair of new remote site appliances provide either a serial communications link or an IP link operating at up to 4 M bps or 6 M bps. Both support 50 private virtual circuits. They start at $4,495 and are available now. Two new data center appliances include a HTTPS Series appliance that accelerates encrypted traffic and supports up to 45 M bps, or a high-end accelerator that can support up to 350 remote sites and 45 M bps. The HTTPS appliance starts at $28,995 and is available now. The high-end Accelerator 6840 starts at $24,995 and is due in June.

The new Accelerator Server for Linux gives users the option of running Expands optimization and traffic management software on a blade or standard server. It will be available in June starting at $3,495.

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