Plug-ins Promise to Accelerate the Right Video

WAN acceleration is a proven method to ensure applications aren’t slowing down when demands get high. But what about applications that you don’t necessarily want to accelerate? How do you segregate nonbusiness bandwidth demands from more business-critical traffic?

Packeteer, a Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of WAN application optimization products says it has an answer.

Today the company announced the release of an application classification plug-ins designed to let network managers identify and distinguish a wide variety of Flash-based IP video traffic that can negatively impact the performance of other applications. With the new plug-ins, Packeteer said its PacketShapers can measure and contain the impact of Flash video downloads on network and application performance.

When it comes to WAN traffic, many enterprises take the “accelerate and hope” approach, Packeteer’s president and CEO told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. However, if you are able to identify less-desirable traffic that competes with the applications your business relies on, you can diagnose and resolve WAN performance issues, he said.

The plug-ins are designed to help you determine whether or not acceleration should be applied to applications that use what Packeteer calls “brute force data transfer techniques,” which can accelerate recreational file transfers at the expense of business transactions.

“Packeteer provides visibility and understands the applications. Without that knowledge, you accelerate iTunes,” Cote said. “Many IT departments have no idea of the magnitude of use. Packeteer providers an eye-opener by tracking 600 different applications,” Cote said.

He added that the new plug-ins track many different flavors of applications. “It’s not that they are good or bad, but you do need to shape them.” The new downloadable plug-ins, which are designed to integrate with Packeteer’s application classification architecture, include the following:

  • FlashVideo, which is designed to identify and classify video streams from YouTube, GoogleVideo, MySpace Video and ESPN.
  • Flash Players for IP-based video including PPLive, a peer-to-peer shareware application for viewing online television programs and TVUPlayer that provides a viewer to TVUNetworks.
  • Podcast content readers for TVTonic, NewzCrawler, Juice, WinPodder and RSS-Radio.

Cote said that while voice applications are typically viewed as mission critical, there’s not a precedent for how to treat the increasing amount of video. “You may have mission critical video, but then I may also have video replay of a competitor’s earning call, which is important to my job.” Then, he said, you have YouTube.

According to Packeteer, while probes have long been available to differentiate network traffic based on MAC, IP address and port numbers, the growing diversity of WAN applications is making that approach obsolete. Packeteer said it has moved beyond Layer 7 techniques to determine which applications are in use, and its application classification technology is designed to helping network managers assess and apply the correct type of application acceleration technology.

Packeteer also today announced a new best practice process designed to help network professionals intelligently optimize and accelerate the performance of all applications every location.

The Intelligent Lifecycle Process (ILP) is designed to provide enterprises with a methodology to pinpoint and resolve performance issues, determine the right WAN optimization and acceleration technologies to apply, and support strategic application rollouts and successfully implement server and storage consolidation initiatives.

Packeteer said that it will offer enterprises a free WAN performance evaluation — delivered by Packeteer or one of its qualified VARs. The program will use PacketShaper tools to automatically discover network applications, identify “top talkers,” demonstrate how much bandwidth applications are consuming, reveal response-time characteristics for key applications and network efficiency concerns.

Packeteer said the ILP program will help enterprises determine the source of unknown network and application-based performance issues. It will also provide a proven methodology for ensuring successful IP telephony deployments and expansion, MPLS WAN service transitions and ERP rollouts and architecture changes.

The framework, according to Packeteer, will also improve the efficiency of XML-based Web service application rollouts, pinpoint collaborative application performance issues and help identify and isolate infected hosts and rogue servers.

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