Accelerator Slashes Latency

As more companies roll out enterprisewide, Web-enabled applications, they're likely to find that the strongest barrier to success is the weakest link in the equation.

As more companies roll out enterprisewide, Web-enabled applications or look to save money by using VOIP, theyre likely to find that the strongest barrier to success is the weakest link in the equation: branch offices low-speed WAN connections.

Those expensive, latency-prone WAN links are getting greater attention from smaller players in the area of bandwidth optimization and application acceleration as enterprises look to avoid costly upgrades to support these new applications.

The latest player—Expand Networks Inc.—this week will introduce a new feature in its Accelerator caching and compression appliances that can eliminate the latency created when large data packets share the same low-speed link with small voice packets.

Expand joins in this space other small but growing players that have recently added new compression technologies to their stable of tools designed to optimize WAN links. And the flurry of activity, following new product rollouts from Peribit Networks Inc. and Packeteer Inc. in the last month, is expected to pick up, said Peter Christy, co-founder of NetsEdge Research Group Online, in Los Altos, Calif.

"Before, these not-very-important, ignored communications links only had to be reliable enough to do e-mail and a few core applications. All of a sudden, theyve become a critical resource. All the vendors are getting the epiphany at the same time. The category is thriving in very troubled times. Communications over bandwidth-challenged links will be even more active this year," Christy said.

The new packet fragmentation function in Expands Accelerator appliances can break up large data packets that introduce unacceptable latency for smaller VOIP (voice-over-IP) packets on low-speed links. Fragmentation is based on the effective link speed and VOIP traffic profiles, according to officials of the Roseland, N.J., company.


Expands Accelerator appliances:
  • Provide caching and compression on low-speed WAN links
  • Offer the ability to break up large data packets
  • Allow users to define acceptable latency for voice traffic
"Large data packets in front of smaller VOIP packets on a low-speed link causes serialization delay, or jitter, on the voice traffic. They can take large data packets and break them into smaller ones so the voice packets can go through without jitter," said a senior network engineer and an Accelerator user at a semiconductor manufacturer, who declined to be identified.

The feature, aimed at installations using 128K-bps or slower links, lets users define the window of acceptable latency for voice traffic. It operates across the range of Accelerators, which support WAN speeds of 128K bps to 45M bps.

The Accelerators cost from $2,000 to $45,000.