Apps fly over WAN links at Continental

* Continental speeds up WAN apps using Expand Networks' gear

Continental Airlines is planning on speeding up application data on its WAN links.

The airline this year plans to roll out updated Expand Networks' compression and acceleration tools based on Expand's upgraded hardware platforms, which one airline IT official says will now help Continental cache more data and store it over time at various locations.

According to Stacey Thomas, senior manager for telecommunications at Continental Airlines, the company has been using Expand Accelerator products for many years now to speed applications over distributed WAN links and better support the airline's eService Check-in application, which is featured in kiosks at airports around the world. With plans to upgrade four geographically dispersed locations to improved Expand boxes with additional hard drives and more storage capabilities, Thomas, who is headquartered in Houston, says Continental will be able to reduce network latency and improve the performance of more Continental applications over the WAN.

"The latency on that WAN circuit and the nature of the applications traveling across it make it extraordinarily painful at times to access the applications from various locations," Thomas explains. "This is really going to improve the performance for us."

Customers buy Expand devices in pairs and place one at each end of a WAN link, between the LANs and the WAN routers. The Accelerators compress and cache traffic bound for the second location, Expand says. The company competes against Peribit (now part of Juniper Networks) and Riverbed.

Thomas says the upgrades will allow the Expand devices to cache the static data and Web pages of Continental's applications and store the data locally for a longer period of time, preventing additional unnecessary trips over the WAN.

"The platform today does a certain amount of caching, but it doesn't have the hard drive capabilities that are in the new platform, so it can only cache so much data and only for so long," she explains. "The new platform can cache and store more data for much longer, and store pages that are used as frequently and serve then from a local server rather than having to put it the Web content over the WAN."

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10