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Silver Peak adds dynamic path options to hybrid WAN users

Silver Peak targets firms with hybrid networks and with features that automatically determine better-performing links through which to send traffic.

Silver Peak Systems Inc. is adding new capabilities to its WAN optimization software that will permit companies with hybrid WAN networks to use the best and most reliable routes to transmit their data.

Silver Peak's new feature, Dynamic Path Control (DPC), automatically determines whether broadband Internet or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is the best route, gauging metrics that include latency, packet loss and available bandwidth.

The capability will be added to Silver Peak's Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) foundation early next year, said Tony Thompson, vice president of marketing at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Silver Peak. "It allows customers to deploy two different WAN technologies for connecting their remote offices. If an organization wants to use an MPLS connection and an IP connection simultaneously, they could do that to provide a balance of connectivity using the optimum bandwidth to make those applications perform the best that they can," he said.

WAN optimizer selects best route for traffic

To provide redundancy or to add flexibility, companies frequently use a combination of IP and MPLS to stitch together their WANs, with many using MPLS to funnel backhaul Internet traffic to a central location before the data is transmitted. But MPLS might not always serve as the best conduit for that purpose, and in some cases, can waste bandwidth or undermine application performance. IP traffic, meanwhile, can be subject to latency and other issues that impact reliability.

Enterprises that prefer to have certain applications -- such as voice traffic -- travel through a specific path to ensure reliability and integrity could also benefit from DPC, Thompson said.

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The feature is engineered to help enterprises simplify their WAN management, said Andrew Lerner, research director of network systems at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "Many mainstream organizations have built WANs with a combination of MPLS and broadband Internet. But working out the specific networking details and nuances to facilitate load sharing across multiple connections is quite difficult," he said. As a consequence, some companies employ an active/standby approach, in which traffic is routed via MPLS under normal circumstances, but is routed through the Internet when the MPLS link is down. With DPC, users can "implement load sharing across both paths in a much more simplified, granular and manageable way" than traditional networking approaches, Lerner said.

VXOA tracks network performance in real time, examining behavior such as packet loss and out-of-order packets, Silver Peak's Thompson said. The DPC software automatically redirects traffic to the better-performing connection if packet problems are detected on a particular line.

VXOA can scale up to 1 Gbps in a virtual machine or up to 5 Gbps in an appliance. It can support up to 512,000 simultaneous connections, Silver Peak said.

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