Application accelerators take on various problems

* The problems addressed by application accelerators

Over the past year or so we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the category that could be referred to generically as “application acceleration.” However, application acceleration can take a lot of forms. In this newsletter, we’re starting a discussion based on a joint project between Webtorials and Robin Layland of Layland Consulting.

In the project, we take a detailed look at various approaches taken by a representative group of vendors offering products in this market.

As Robin explains as background for the project:

“Everyone wants applications, backups and file downloads to go faster. Network managers are constantly under pressure to make response time at remote sites more like that at headquarters. The traditional answer is to ‘throw bandwidth at the problem,’ a solution that doesn’t always help and can cost a lot of money.

“The truth is that throwing bandwidth at the problem only works when the link utilization is high, and in most cases that is not the case. Applications can be slow for reasons other than lack of bandwidth. These reasons include:

- TCP protocol throttles throughput.

- Application protocols, such as Microsoft’s MAPI used by Exchange Server and CIFS used by its file system, are limited in throughput and slow the application down.

- There is just too much being sent, the units of work keep growing larger and the amount of bandwidth needed to make a difference is too large to be practical. This is especially true as applications move to HTTP or use larger and larger files such as Word, CAD/CAM or Excel.

- The size of e-mail attachments.

- There is too much ‘junk’ or unimportant traffic taking up the bandwidth, starving the important traffic.

“The answer is found in the next-generation WAN optimizers called Application Accelerators. Application acceleration addresses non-bandwidth congestion problems caused by TCP and application-layer protocols, significantly reduces the size of the data being sent along with the number of packets it takes to complete a transaction, and takes other actions to speed up the entire process. Application accelerators can also monitor the traffic to let you understand what is happening and help with security. Thus application accelerators are an important tool in solving remote response-time problems.”

Next time we’ll tell you more about this project. Or, if you just can’t wait, you can get a preview of the results: (free registration required)

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