Zero chance of interoperability between optimization technologies

* More questions raised at the network, application optimization seminars

Jim recently moderated a seminar series on the topic of network and application optimization that was produced by Network World. This is the last of three newsletters that will discuss some of the questions that the audience had for the presenting vendors at the seminars.

A theme that popped up in each of the four seminars concerned the lack of interoperability between branch office optimization technologies. As one user asked, “What are the chances of an interoperability standard amongst the vendors?” The simple answer is that there would be zero chance of an interoperability standard in the foreseeable future. As the vendors explain it, they certainly could build products using standards such as gzip. Their argument, however, is that by using proprietary techniques they get much better performance than is possible with a standards based approach. Whether you accept that argument or not, there is not really any chance that these products will interoperate anytime soon.

During the seminar, a Cisco speaker made the comment that only Cisco and Citrix avoid tunneling. Their point was that tunneling changes the packet headers and hence a solution based on tunneling is not transparent. That comment spurred a number of questions from the audience relative to whose solutions are truly transparent. Those questions were best answered by the speaker from F5 who looked at the other sponsors and stated, “Each of our company’s solutions have caused some networks to break.”

Another theme that popped up in each of the four seminars was the confusion that the attendees had in choosing between the vendors’ solutions. As one user asked, “What is the No. 1 step I should take to get started in evaluating these solutions?” Our advice is to develop a set of decision criteria and use these to evaluate the available solutions. The result of this analysis is a short list of vendors whose solutions you need to take in-house and test. To help with this process, we will begin to write about the criteria that we suggest you use to evaluate these solutions.

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