User gets flexible compression

* F5 adds intelligence to compression

Chris Sherwood was ready to upgrade his load-balancing and compression tools in order to get something that could handle gigabit speeds. In the process, he came upon a better way to compress - or in some cases, not compress - data being distributed across the company network to some 200,000 end users.

Sherwood, network operations manager at Rapattoni Corp., an Internet-based Multiple Listing Service (MLS) real estate provider, in Simi Valley, Calif., says his former compression technology from NetScaler didn't allow him as much control or flexibility over how to manage application traffic. He refers to the tools from NetScaler and his specific implementation as a "light switch" of sorts that only allowed him to choose on or off when it came to compression.

"In the NetScaler box the compression was on or off for the entire unit, which wasn't ideal for us," Sherwood explains.

Following reviews of an upgraded product from NetScaler and one from F5 Networks, Sherwood decided upon F5's Big-IP application traffic management product. While he experienced some problems getting the Big-IP appliances to synchronize, Sherwood says now he can better control the amount of compression applied to application traffic and even if it gets compressed at all.

"Compressing everything slowed some applications down, actually," he says. "Often the time it takes to decompress data would lengthen the entire process, so not compressing it at all was a better option."

F5 calls its technology intelligent compression, saying that "compression is not a one-size-fits-all technology. Compression that lacks intelligence and granularity can actually hurt end-user performance, especially for those clients accessing an application via a broadband connection with low latency."

Sherwood says he likes that he can apply policies and rules to different applications to better manage how the traffic traverses his net.

"We can set compression at 10 different levels, and depending on the importance of the application or the end users, we can decide which rules to apply," he says.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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