App Acceleration Not a Pipe Dream

Networks with the fastest servers or the biggest
bandwidth pipes don’t necessarily deliver any given application the fastest anymore. New application acceleration appliances and services hit the market recently, with vendors shooting right at faster application delivery.

is pushing its fastest-ever appliance while Juniper is pronouncing its vision
and introducing a new management tool. Cisco jumped the gun a bit and
announced its Application Control Engine (ACE) last month.

Then there is the number of smaller vendors vying for their own pieces, including Crescendo, which claims that it is the first company
to address application multi-tier acceleration.

Crescendo’s ALP (Application Layer Processing) targets application
acceleration inside the data center by intelligently accelerating the
application flow between all tiers.

Hooman Beheshti, vice president of technology at Crescendo, explained that most
acceleration approaches physically sit in front of the front-most tier of
the application, usually the Web tier.

As such, enterprises have been concentrating on performance bottlenecks from the edge of the network
outbound. Content compression, TCP optimization, caching, and load
balancing are examples of functionality that helps deliver content once it’s

But there is a need for more than just a Web tier of acceleration.

Beheshti said that applications are multi-tiered entities with application
logic and database components often sitting behind the Web tier. Content is
generated through processing across every application tier.

But while existing application acceleration solutions have addressed the processing time a bit by performing offload functionality for the Web tier, Beheshti said they don’t address performance bottlenecks in the back-end processing tiers.

“ALP is the first technology to actually control request admission, queue
requests to prevent application overload, reschedule heavy requests and
intelligently reschedule them using definitions created by the Crescendo
Rule Engine (CRE),” Beheshti said.

ALP is not without its barriers though, most of which by Beheshti’s own
admission reside within the deploying company.

He said that in order to optimally accelerate the application, there needs to be a certain level of communication between the network group and the
applications group.

“This will take communication with the people writing the applications,”
Beheshti said. “Historically, there has not been perfect communications
between those corporate groups. We are seeing those barriers come down

Juniper Networks has its own aggressive application acceleration vision.

key part of that vision involves not just accelerating application delivery
but actually measuring and monitoring the system used to perform the

Juniper’s WX Central Management System (WX CMS) has been updated to version
5.2, offering the promise of improved functionality to help enable
enterprises to roll out and optimize their application acceleration efforts.

There are a number of reasons why application acceleration has recently become a hot topic.

Mike Banic, director of product marketing at Juniper Networks, said that
part of the increased focus on application acceleration is the enterprise
emphasis around business process and the need to increase efficiencies in
those processes.

According to Banic, enterprise CIOs are beginning to
realize that it’s the performance of an application that prevents efficiency, which in turn is driving the decision to deploy

“There is also a lot broader knowledge now that these kinds of solutions are
perfect if you’re centralizing servers and consolidating data centers,”
Banic said. “And because that’s such a broad trend, we’re seeing a great
amount of uptake.”

Greg Smith, director of product marketing of the application networking group at
Citrix, noted that there is an increasing need on the
customer side as the company rolls out more applications to a broader set of users
that needs ever-increasing performance.

“I also think that you’re seeing advancement in the technologies that are
available to enterprise customers,” Smith said. “I don’t think there are any
technological barriers; I think what you’re seeing in the market today is
that there is a pretty dramatic shift to upgrade application

Smith said that there are a lot of large enterprises that made
investments in older-generation, layer 4 load balancers back in 2000 and 2001
that provide adequate traffic management but don’t provide the ability to
accelerate traffic.

Customers are looking for more than just traffic
management. According to Smith, they are looking at things such as
data compression, caching, TCP optimization and TCP multi-plexing.

“We are not necessarily exclusively focused on networking performance
metrics like packets per second and raw system throughput; that’s what
differentiates us,” Smith said. “We’re about processing and delivery of
application data, not about making the network perform.”

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