Certeon goes virtual with application acceleration appliance

* New aCelera software product is designed for virtualized environments

Server virtualization technology is changing the way enterprises deploy applications - and it's changing the way they view single-function hardware appliances. For companies looking to cut back on branch-office (and data center) hardware, Certeon this week announced a new application acceleration product that's all software and is designed to be deployed in a virtual server infrastructure.

Certeon's aCelera Virtual Appliance software can deliver up to a 95% reduction in response time for applications being accessed over the WAN - yet it doesn’t require organizations to deploy hardware appliances at both ends of a WAN connection, says Gareth Taube, vice president of worldwide marketing at Certeon. “You don’t need dedicated hardware to achieve these results,” he says.

As server virtualization catches on, more applications are being centralized in data centers and more companies are finding a need for acceleration technology to keep application performance acceptable for remote user populations.

Certeon’s new product has been optimized for a virtual environment, Taube says. “This is brand new code we’ve written. This is not our original product,” he says. “The reason it’s new code is because for efficiency in a virtual environment, running inside a VM as a virtual appliance, we wanted a smaller, more efficient footprint.”

The aCelera software runs natively within a virtual machine infrastructure; it has been certified for VMware ESX and ESXi. Looking ahead, Certeon will support Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor when it becomes available later this year, Taube says.

On the management front, aCelera provides centralized provisioning features and is integrated with VMware’s Virtual Center software. “If you bring up Virtual Center in VMware, then you get our Certeon management system for seeing all of the boxes through the Virtual Center management screen,” Taube says.The acceleration technology performs traditional functions such as packet compression, QoS, and HTTP, TCP and CIFS optimization to give users faster access to virtualized applications and system resources across the WAN. Like Certeon’s existing S-Series line of hardware-based acceleration products, aCelera also support application-layer acceleration features. Customers can opt to use embedded “blueprints” that Certeon builds to optimize particular applications, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, and EMC’s Documentum and eRoom applications.

Pricing for the aCelera Virtual Appliance software starts at $2,495. Prices are based on the number of users, which allows customers to deploy as many instances of aCelera as they need at a given location once a license is procured, Taube says. Enterprises can choose to run the aCelera software on a virtualization platform or on standard x86 server.

Eventually Certeon plans to move to a software-only model for its acceleration technologies. So far it isn’t going to stop selling its existing S-Series appliances, however.

“We will continue to sell the S-Series,” Taube says. “However our direction is to become a software vendor and to provide acceleration services through software only, over time.” How rapidly that transition occurs depends on market acceptance, he says. But Taube doesn’t think it will take long. “It’s overwhelmingly attractive not to have to ship boxes.”

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