New devices that support bandwidth-hungry applications are invading the network--it's time to embrace and control them.
There's a lot of Internet applications out there with a lot of different network usage models. Some are chatty, some are optimized. Some are bursty, others are constant network bandwidth users. Even if you can figure out what applications are coming into your enterprise and understand their bandwidth needs, that's only part of the problem. Some of the apps are critical to the company, and others--like, say, YouTube--are less so. Many who've tried to manage the melee have given up in favor of just adding more bandwidth. And that was a viable solution until the recent rise of what Blue Coat calls the selfish application.
What's a selfish application? It's any app that from time to time downloads a lot of data and does it as fast as it can--regardless of the needs of other apps on the network. In other words, most apps are selfish. The difference these days is the quantity of data they're downloading and the likelihood that lots of other people are running the same apps and downloading similar quantities of data. Think of all the Flash updates, or iOS refreshes, or YouTube users on their personal devices. The data sets have gotten bigger, and the number of users is growing daily. So if you weren't managing your WAN bandwidth before, it might be time to start.
Blue Coat gave a quick demo of how YouTube can suck up available network bandwidth, and how its Mach5 and PacketShaper products can manage bandwidth limitations for particular apps. For the most part, the problem of bandwidth-hungry apps is newer than the Blue Coat features to limit them. The problem is compounded by employees, visitors and contractors bringing in their own devices and expecting access to the Internet and internal resources. It can be further exacerbated by heavy use of SaaS applications.
Blue Coat does have a new major release of its software, which has been shipping for just a month now. Version 9.1 now handles IPv6 and increased the throughput capability when run on Blue Coat's fastest hardware.
Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio