Exinda Networks has introduced three new features to its WAN orchestration product to allow businesses to manage their bandwidth at a more granular level, with more control over quality of service for applications.
Many businesses have given up the fight against applications like Facebook, but they still need to ensure that non-critical applications aren't eating up too many network resources. They also want to be able to parse out user attributes and set policies accordingly, like defining specific levels of service or bandwidth limits to different user groups.
"These enhancements to [WAN products] are the next logical step. Businesses want the same deep granularity into users -- including their roles and locations -- that service providers have had for their user base for years," said Jim Rapoza, senior research analyst for Boston-based Aberdeen Group.
WAN orchestration requires insight, control over users
Users no longer access the network from a consistent location or have predictable access to applications. The three enhancements to Exinda's Network Orchestrator product -- which are available now to customers as a free update -- will put more control over users, applications and activities on the network in the hands of businesses, as well as service provider customers, said Brendan Reid, vice president of marketing for Exinda.
The new Integrated Captive Portal Policies feature collects user attributes from an Internet portal and allows businesses to create and apply quality of service (QoS) policies or tiers of service based on user types. A new Adaptive Response Quotas enhancement works with the Integrated Captive Portal Policies feature by allowing businesses to define and set Internet usage, network access or bandwidth limits for specific user groups, or block areas of the network for specific users entirely. Network administrators can set the quotas by data transfer volume or the amount of time a user is on the network. Businesses can also create actions that can occur when usage quotas are reached -- such as blocking data transfers or redirecting users to a specific webpage, the company said.
"[Hospitality] customers, like hotels for instance, can offer complimentary and premium Internet services. Once a user authenticates and signs up for a service, the Captive Portal feature can dictate the level of service they receive," Reid said. The Adaptive Response enhancement can come into play next, allowing businesses to enforce limits for better bandwidth control, he said.
Impulse Point, a network access control vendor based in Lakeland, Fla., is an OEM partner that Exinda worked with to release the captive portal feature as part of its Network Orchestration product update. Impulse Point has many education customers that are dealing with transient users joining the network from a number of different mobile devices. The company helps these customers capture device and user information and apply polices to devices from a security perspective. But customers who had Impulse Point technology deployed alongside Exinda products were also asking for greater control over the WAN, said Dennis Muley, president of Impulse Point.
"When applying WAN policies, customers really want to be able to understand the role of that user -- whether it's a guest, student or facility member -- and how they treat users differently or apply [policies] differently," he said. "[Customers] have only had locations capabilities before -- they could apply policies to a library or a dorm, but they couldn't apply unique policies or bandwidth controls past that."
Bandwidth management, even for encrypted traffic
Exinda has also updated its Edge Cache product to support HTTPS Caching. Many cloud applications and providers are moving to HTTPS -- the secure version of the communications protocol, HTTP -- but traditional caching tools can't handle encrypted Internet traffic because servers can't cache what it can't see, Reid said. The new HTTPS Caching feature allows businesses to cache secure Web traffic, now the standard for many commercial sites such as YouTube and Facebook, for improved user experience with cloud applications, the vendor said.
Without HTTPS caching capabilities, businesses or providers have no way to apply policies or manage secure Internet traffic, Aberdeen Group's Rapoza said.
"This is [important] for any organization that has a lot of secure Internet traffic running across the network, which is most of the traffic at this point," Exinda's Reid said.
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