Last week at the ComNet Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C., I sat in on a session about optimizing bandwidth to accelerate application performance.The session entitled "Doing more with less: Bandwidth optimization during budget meltdown" featured a panel of three vendors and drew a crowd of about 40 people at a show that was obviously lacking in attendance.Packeteer, RouteScience and Peribit each detailed how their respective hardware and software could prioritize applications, compress files and reroute traffic through low-cost links.Packeteer gave an overview of its portfolio of traffic and application management products. Packeteer's strategy is to manage application performance by applying quality-of-service metrics and prioritizing mission-critical applications over others. Packeteer said it can identify application traffic types in voice and data packets traveling across an IP network.RouteScience detailed how its software can automatically redirect traffic across the least expensive links and\/or optimize application performance. The company said its software can help network managers lower their bandwidth costs and improve application performance, depending on their needs. The software locates either the fastest or least expensive link to perform both those functions.Peribit performs a type of network compression that goes beyond file compression. The company says it can help network managers reduce the amount of bandwidth the same applications use while traversing the net.