A January 2004 report written by APM Advisors predicts that much more consolidation of functions in application performance-management equipment is still to come. No vendor or industry group sponsored the report, "Application Front Ends," according to the consulting firm.APM Advisors asserts that it makes "little to no sense" to purchase different products to achieve the following core services:* TCP offload.* Compression.* Intrusion detection and prevention.* Switching (server load-balancing).* Caching.* Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) acceleration.APM Advisors' research indicates that the architectures of newer multifunction equipment from companies such as Array, NetScaler and Redline Networks provide enough throughput to support any number of services operating at the same time in one consolidated piece of gear.APM Advisors is christening this multifunction category of products\u00a0 "application front ends," or "AFEs." The reason is that the firm says these products represent resurgence in the concept of the old IBM front-end processor (FEP). The goal of FEPs was to "front end" the application processor so that applications could devote all their CPU cycles to process transactions. And, in effect, that's what AFEs do.In a separate document, "Application Performance Management Strategies and Goals," APM Advisors founder Lynn Nye recommends that enterprises develop an overall application performance management strategy and execute to it, rather than spending resources on tactical deployments. He asserts that there are many cases where performance-management issues can be headed off at the system level using certain AFE capabilities, before they can swell to cause network-level chaos.