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Evaluating Certeon's aCelera virtual appliance

Certeon is the only WAN optimization vendor to provide a full virtual solution, the aCelera virtual appliance, which interoperates with the market's leading virtual hypervisors and management systems.

Many WAN optimization providers offer a software solution, but Certeon is the only vendor to exclusively offer a virtualized software solution, having retired its physical appliance, the S-Series, in May 2008. Certeon's aCelera virtual appliance runs on industry-standard servers that the company will provide if requested. It has announced that it will also be launching a mobile client, aCelera Client, which will run on industry-standard desktops and laptops.

Certeon claims to be differentiated in the market in part because it is the only vendor that provides a full virtual appliance that utilizes the market's leading virtual hypervisors and management systems. When queried by the author, Certeon stated that aCelera has archived VMware Ready certification for use with VMware ESX hypervisors and management systems. Certeon also stated that aCelera supports Microsoft Server 2008 with Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer hypervisors and management systems. Certeon says that aCelera performance can be tailored to the topology, environment and performance requirements of both data centers and branches; is 64-bit; and takes advantage of the benefits of virtualization, ranging from system monitoring to high availability and distributed resource scheduling.

Certeon stated that by leveraging high-performance server virtualization infrastructure, aCelera can utilize and benefit from storage area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) technologies and environments developed by companies such as EMC, NetApp, Hitachi and Fujitsu without creating islands of unmanaged storage.

Certeon has relationships with partners including VMware, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, IBM and HP. These range from software licensing agreements for reselling hypervisors to reseller agreements for many of the hardware platforms that Certeon supports, such as Dell, IBM and HP; and aCelera is validated on IBM Rational applications and is currently being tested for validation on WebSphere and FileNet.

Important facts about the aCelera virtual appliance

The aCelera virtual appliance can be deployed either in line or out of line. Certeon asserts that aCelera supports transparent and correct addressing to provide for complete visibility into accelerated WAN traffic. These capabilities maintain all server-applied quality of service (QoS) and support all third-party shaping, classification and tracking systems, according to the company.

Certeon aCelera's compression, caching and data deduplication capabilities focus on what the company refers to as "history block sizing" and use a technology that Certeon calls "Stream Based Differencing (SBD)." SBD enables the continuous live stream deduplication of all TCP traffic. Certeon claims that SBD is tuned for maximum deduplication and efficiently utilizes system resources (such as CPU, RAM, and disk) to support a large history database.

In its response to the author's query, Certeon pointed out that many WAN optimization solutions require that a branch location's storage must be matched in two ways: one storage unit in the data center for each storage unit used per branch, and protocol matched to protocol. Certeon stated that aCelera does not require duplicate storage resources because of location fragmentation or protocol fragmentation, so less storage is required. Certeon added that its technology has been optimized for virtual environments.

According to Certeon, aCelera's proxy and connection-handling technologies with protocol transparency (ranging from Common Internet File System [CIFS], Messaging Application Program Interface [MAPI], HTTP/S and Remote Procedure Call [RPC] to NFS) are lightweight, high performance, and designed to integrate with and take advantage of high-performance virtualization platforms. Unlike traditional hardware appliances, proxy and connection handling is not tied to the underlying hardware or operating system software. Certeon says that up to a maximum of 65,000 concurrent connections per single virtual machine are supported.

Application or higher-level, protocol-specific optimization features such as acceleration of CIFS, RPC over HTTP, HTTP, MAPI and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are delivered as application acceleration Blueprints. These Blueprints use Layer 7 stream analysis to identify and optimize the application streams. Blueprints work along with SBD to decode traffic flows and uncover specific application data objects, enabling aCelera to perform enhanced object compression and deduplication operations. Blueprints also perform protocol-specific optimizations that mitigate the effects of high-latency WAN environments. Certeon provides Blueprints for:

  • All HTTP, MAPI and CIFS traffic flows.
  • Microsoft Office applications, SharePoint, Dynamics and any .NET application.
  • IBM Rational software stack.
  • SSL.

For more, read all the sections in our guide:

About the author:
Dr. Jim Metzler, principal at Ashton Metzler and Associates, is a widely recognized authority on network technology and its business applications. In more than 28 years of experience, Jim has helped numerous vendors refine product and service strategies and has helped enterprises evolve network infrastructures. He has directed and conducted market research at a major industry analyst firm and run a consulting firm. Jim holds a Ph.D. in numerical analysis from Boston University. He is co-author of the book Layer 3 Switching: A Guide for IT Professionals (Prentice Hall).

This was last published in February 2010

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