Consolidation in the application performance-optimization space took a different turn this week when networking giant Juniper Networks stepped in to acquire two companies—Peribit in the WAN-optimization space and Redline in the application front-end space.
While the small vendors in the fast-growing $1 billion market have been working to consolidate more performance optimization techniques into their offerings, the acquisition marked a maturation of the market by taking out two of the dozens of independent companies that serve it. The remaining independents, meanwhile, are working overtime to beef up what they have.
One such vendor, Coyote Point Systems Inc., at Interop next week will launch new hardware platforms and the latest release of its Equalizer SI Series traffic-management software with doubled performance and the ability to run more complex rules against traffic.
Coyote Point, the Chevy in the market to F5 Networks Inc.s Cadillac, added to its platform without increasing its more competitive pricing.
“We more than doubled the bandwidth available to us on the CPU, so we can do much more complex rules sets and deploy more features on the same hardware platforms down the road,” said Bill Kish, CEO of Coyote Point in Millerton, N.Y.
Version 8 of the traffic management and load balancing software allows the Equalizer SI series to inspect headers on an HTTP connection, define particular sets of servers to handle traffic for different client types, and define different SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocols to be accelerated. It also includes several security enhancements and a refined user interface.
In the new enterprise-class E450si, mid-range E350si and entry-level E250si appliances, Coyote Point eliminated disks and replaced them with flash memory.
Other enhancements include beefed-up switching capacity of up to 16 ports; support for up to 8 million concurrent connections at wire-speed; scalable load balancing for an unlimited number of virtual servers and up to 64 servers per cluster; protection against large-scale denial of service attacks; and SSL acceleration for up to 4,000 encrypted transactions per second.
The new Version 8 software and new appliances are available now. They range from $13,700 for a fully loaded Equalizer E450si to $3,995 for an entry-level level E250si appliance.
Meanwhile, F5 Networks earlier this week announced clientless WAN optimization with its new Big-IP Application Accelerator 3400. The TCP Express feature in F5s Traffic Management Operating System (TM/OS) is a TCP stack that can boost end user performance up to 80 percent and increase bandwidth efficiency by up to four times, according to F5 officials.
F5 also released its new Fast Cache feature, which allows users to define specific caching policies for each business application.
The new Big-IP Application Accelerator 3400 combines F5s acceleration technologies in a single appliance that offloads server processing and integrates with any Layer 4 to Layer 7 traffic management offering.
The new appliance and software features are available now. The Big-IP Application Accelerator is $26,995.
Limited Participation from Cisco
In the WAN-optimization space, Packeteer Inc. next week for Interop will introduce a new application compression algorithm plug-in for its traffic management appliances that boosts the performance of text and e-mail by as much as 20 percent.
The new ICNA algorithm is available now.
Packeteer will also launch its new Mentat SkyX Server 155, which provides VPN acceleration for remote and mobile users. The new server, intended for customers that have many locations or a large virtual workforce, optimizes performance across high-capacity WAN links operating at up to 155M bps.
It is designed to be deployed at a central location, and communicates with client-side software installed on individual users systems.
The server operates as a companion to Packeteers Mentat SkyX Gateways to extend TCP acceleration across a variety of WAN links to different locations. It is available now.
Crescendo Networks Inc. at Interop will show off Version 3 of its Maestro software for its application front-end appliance. The new software release enhances data compression by up to 60 percent with zero latency at gigabit speeds; adds a new server load balancing algorithm that performs a unique least-number pending-requests load balancing; and adds traditional Round Robin and Weighted Round Robin algorithms.
Notably absent from the fray is Cisco Systems Inc. Outside its Actona acquisition in the storage file-systems space, Cisco has remained on the sidelines.
“Cisco has not responded yet to F5 [Networks] in moving from simple server load balancing up to these [application front ends]. There have been several accounts where customers have wanted to see Cisco do something and its not been there. Redline, NetScaler and F5 have been picking up that business,” said Lynn Nye, principal at APM Advisors in Portland, Ore.
Nye said that it seems that Cisco is instead focused on Quality of Service queuing mechanisms within its IOS (Internetwork Operating System) software.
Other observers say they believe the potential market is not big enough and the problem is not strategic enough for Cisco to get involved.
“When they acquired the data caching company—Actona—they said compression was something customers needed only on a small percentage of their lines,” said Peter Christy, co-founder of Internet Research Group in Los Altos, Calif. “Cisco wanted, for strategic reasons, things that were more broadly deployed. And so they believed compression was a better technology to leave to smaller vendors.”
Despite Junipers big splash with its pair of acquisitions, Christy said he does not see Cisco jumping into the fray with its own. “I dont think Cisco feels threatened right now. I dont see a need for tit-for-tat catch-up,” he said.
But it could spur others to buy into the market, said John Fomook, director of worldwide marketing at Packeteer in Cupertino, Calif. “I imagine it will spark more activity in response. Theres still a lot of companies and technology. Its probably too many. When you think in terms of platforms, how many can one marketplace support? We know customers want fewer and fewer vendors to deal with,” he said.