• United States
Director, Network World Test Alliance

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Dec 12, 20052 mins
Citrix SystemsNetworking

We hope to cash in on the promise of that adage, as we are in what we hope is the final days of the industry’s first comprehensive performance test of network application acceleration devices. In partnership with David Newman of Network Test, a Network World Lab Alliance member, we’ve been evaluating products from Array, Citrix, Crescendo Networks, Foundry Networks, F5 Networks and Juniper for more than six months now. And getting the test done right – publication of the results is set for Jan. 16 – is (figuratively, we hope) killing us.

The problem with delivering meaningful, repeatable test results for this given set of products lies in the fact that no two vendors are approaching network application acceleration in the same manner.

F5 – one of the original players in this market – has built every acceleration feature known to humanity (plus a few security programs) into its BigIP appliance, while start-up Crescendo uses custom silicon to wring every last bit of performance out of its device.

Thin-client vendor Citrix is trying to combine its application translation expertise with the compression and caching technologies it picked up in its NetScaler acquisition earlier this year. Foundry is moving up the stack with its ServerIron platform, offering many of the same Layer 7 switching features as other test participants. Juniper is trying to bolt together the Layer 7 Web application front-end device it bought with its recent purchase of Redline Networks and the WAN optimization technology it acquired with its July acquisition of Peribit.

While it hasn’t announced a product, Cisco has put the acceleration technologies from its Actona and Fineground acquisitions under an Application Networking Services umbrella with technologies such as TCP/IP and SSL offloading and Layer 4-7 load balancing.

So what’s a buyer to make of this smorgasbord of options? We’ll tell you after our Application Acceleration Summit in New York in conjunction with the Interop show.

We’re hosting a dinner for executives from Cisco, Citrix, Crescendo, F5, Foundry and Juniper to discuss the dynamics of this fast-growing market. We’ll report on the highlights in next Monday’s issue.

Separately, we’re gathering engineers from companies that offer application acceleration wares to discuss how best to test these devices. That methodology should result in an apples-to-apples comparison that will simplify buying.

Stay tuned. If it doesn’t kill us first, this information should make your network stronger.