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WAN optimization vendors and application delivery: F5, Streamcore and Ecessa

WAN optimization vendors and products can be difficult to categorize. Here we cover F5, known for application delivery; Streamcore, which focuses on performance; and Ecessa, which makes WAN link controllers.

This guide attempts to include the major WAN optimization vendors in the market, but there are some omissions (see the links below for more on other WAN optimization controller vendors). Changes in the market, new product launches and the overlapping nature of the WAN optimization playing field made some companies unable to participate or difficult to categorize.

When the author contacted vendors asking for information, F5 declined to respond to the request. The company stated, "F5's WAN optimization controller offerings are changing and at the time of publication, it is not an appropriate comparison to other market alternatives. However, F5's customers are driving a requirement for WAN application delivery services to be part of the application delivery controller. F5 first released Web acceleration services as a module for BIG-IP. With the release of BIG-IP v10 in April 2009, more WAN application delivery services were added. This capability improves transfer rates, reduces bandwidth consumption, and offloads applications for more efficient WAN communication. Given this unfolding strategy for F5, we do look forward to changing the dynamics of the WOC market."

Streamcore is another vendor often associated with optimization and application delivery. The company feels, however, that its products are complementary to WAN optimization controllers (WOCs). According to Streamcore, "The 'all-in-one' box providing state-of-the-art visibility, control and acceleration is not a reality. Indeed, while most traditional WOCs excel in accelerating bandwidth hungry and chatty applications, they still lack features integrated in a single box to manage and optimize real-time flows (e.g., VoIP, video) or highly interactive traffic (e.g.,VDI keystrokes). Such types of traffic require network visibility with quality of experience measurements as well as advanced dynamic control features that go beyond basic QoS."

Streamcore focuses on network performance management features such as application and network monitoring, network capacity planning, network troubleshooting, and fault detection and prevention, as well as on innovative visibility features (including a Google Maps-based supervision map and video conferencing performance measurements). The company combines this functionality with per-session and behavior-based quality of service (QoS) algorithms to improve the performance of interactive and real-time traffic.

Ecessa is yet another vendor often associated with WAN optimization. Ecessa's WAN link controllers are targeted to the small and medium-sized enterprise and provide three primary advantages:

  • WAN reliability: Ecessa's WAN link controllers enable IT organizations to improve WAN reliability by utilizing two or more WAN links and/or ISPs for real-time WAN availability.
  • Flexible management of bandwidth/costs: The WAN link controllers allow IT organizations to replace expensive dedicated circuits with low-cost broadband connections.
  • Network optimization: Ecessa's WAN link controllers intelligently load balance both inbound and outbound traffic, allowing applications to be directed to the best available connections with the most available bandwidth at any point in time.

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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