While Cisco’s take on SDN is still very much a work in progress – much like SDN itself – it’s decision to focus on the what, applications, rather than the how, networking, makes an interesting set-up for Silver Peak’s Dynamic Path Control launch this week. Best known for selling WAN optimization hardware – and increasingly – software for accelerating data movement between data centers, remote offices and the cloud, the company said its latest software will automatically direct hybrid network traffic to assure that critical applications running to branch offices receive the fastest speed and the highest quality, based on available bandwidth, lowest loss, and lowest latency.
Hybrid networks combine different types of data services as an affordable way to improve application performance and reliability in branch offices, said the company. “Customers would like to be able to intelligently choose one link or another based on characteristics,” said Damon Ennis, VP of Product Management, Silver Peak.
Dynamic Path Control is like having a GPS with real-time traffic updates, moving applications off of a failing or poorly-performing network before problems occur, he stated. The result is improved application performance and reliable service delivery across data centers, remote offices and the cloud.
The company’s Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) software has been able to maintain parallel paths between sites and gather fine-grained details about those paths, but Dynamic Path Control extends these capabilities by sampling the network thousands of times every second to detect even subtle network changes before they impact the application.
Networking is becoming more application-centric, making it more difficult for network performance managers to understand how legacy metrics translate into the end-user’s experience. Application performance is closely associated with the end-user experience, the overall performance of business processes and the extent to which service-level agreements are met.
In a blog about Cisco’s ACI launch, analyst Tracy Corbo, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), noted application performance can always be better. “Wouldn’t it be nice if applications could dynamically adapt to changing network conditions and choose the best path to traverse across the network?”
A month ago WANop leader Riverbed Technology announced an integrated WAN Optimization and Performance Management solution that can deliver application acceleration anywhere while enhancing end-user experience and visibility.
“At a high level the ability to support multiple paths in the WAN optimization solution is becoming a pretty critical feature,” said Ennis. The Riverbed feature is different from ours. Their’s is based on a server at the site, where we’re looking at real-time, dynamically choosing the link based on the real-time quality of the network, he said.
In November Network World published the results of a WANop test in which Riverbed and Silver Peak offered the best performance, although Riverbed ended up getting the top overall score and Ipanema and Exinda scored high marks for innovation. Silver Peak was also rated the most affordable WANop solution.
Silver Peak has been busy the last few months, announcing a lifetime WANop investment protection guarantee, and integration of its Agility data acceleration software (Agility) with VMware’s NSX network virtualization platform (at least some view VMware and NSX as the bigger threat to Cisco than SDN). More recently Silver Peak enhanced its replication acceleration software.
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