"WAN optimization 1.0 was all about making a faster and more optimized pipe. WAN optimization 2.0 is business-centric and focusing on the user experience," explains Brendan Reid, senior director of product marketing at Exinda.
The Exinda Edge software ships with application packs preconfigured for different types of businesses. These use a template approach to specify the priority of different classes of applications and scheduling. For branch-office networks, this might mean Salesforce.com, Skype or WebEx. In an educational environment, it might mean that e-learning applications like Blackboard and Moodle receive priority, while social applications like Facebook receive measured resource allocation.
The performance of specific applications classes can be adjusted according to a schedule. For example, a university might slow down social networking and Xbox applications during the day to give priority to education applications. At night, when classes are out of session, the recreational applications can get higher priority.
"Branch networks are rapidly becoming more complex," says Joe Skorupa, VP and a distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The proliferation of recreational applications, consumer devices and Internet-based services puts increased pressure on the network. As a result, WAN optimization suppliers must place a greater emphasis on application assurance, not just acceleration, and must apply user, application and usage profiles of the business to drive a more intelligent approach to optimization."
Reid says Exinda's approach is different from traditional content and Web filtering tactics, which are more binary in nature. Exinda Dynamic Policy Engine, a key component of the company's offerings, allows network managers to assign quality-of-service properties to specific applications, and can be utilized to dial down problematic apps to improve the performance of other apps.
"The application estate in the network has become more complex. You cannot just accelerate everything," he explains. "You have to take a more intelligent approach as to what you optimize. In some cases, full acceleration approach on all applications makes sense. But in others, that approach is no longer prudent."
Exinda Edge can be deployed as a virtual appliance, which can help branch offices consolidate file, print and WAN optimization services onto a single box. The virtual appliance will run on the most prevalent hypervisors, including ESX, Hyper-V, XenServer and KVM. "We see an aggressive move in branch offices from physical servers for print, file and email to create a more consolidated IT footprint," Reis says.
Edge is the latest addition to Exinda's WAN optimization lineup, which includes products focused on data centers, cloud applications and mobile networks.