Steelhead appliances focus on speed by copying already used -- or warm files -- onto the system, so that once users go to access them again, they arent duplicated, wasting space. The appliance and software can also tell if there are any changes to old files. When there are, the technology only sends the new info, later adding it to the stored file. Klasna notes one drawback is that so-called cold data takes somewhat longer for transport time.
Installing the system means companies need the Steelhead appliance on the network edge, the software on the machines and a management device, which handles usage reports and licensing for mobile users. That manager enables multiple simultaneous licenses.
On the IT administrator's side, those controllers send reports that are all based on the same code [as the appliance]. You see your traffic summary by application protocol and by port. You see whats going over your network and whats being utilized. And you can dig in by user to see what is going on, says Dave.
The idea of offering mobile access to wide area networks is in no way new. (See WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops.) Among those with offerings are Blue Coat, Citrix, and Packeteer. (See Blue Coat Intros Software, WAN Optimization Gone Wild, Citrix Busts Mobile Move, WAN Optimization Inches On, Packeteer Integrates SkyX, Mobiliti, and Packeteer Picks Tacit.)
There are competitors in certain areas, such as in WAFS [wide area file services] or in TCP acceleration, but as far as being able to holistically accelerate pretty much every protocol, they stand alone, says Steve Duplessie, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.