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Blue Coat PacketShaper 8.6 Controls Web Applications

To better manage the growing number of Web-based applications used by enterprises to conduct their business, Blue Coat Systems introducing a new PacketShaper operating system and a new, faster, appliance for deciding how much bandwidth to allocate to certain Web apps based on their importance. PacketShaper 8.6, along with the PacketShaper 12000 appliance, also make it easier to allow use of social media applications in the workplace if they have a business purpose. Key to the new technology is a system for classifying types of Web apps based on an analysis of their URL and a Web community of people who monitor the apps.

PacketShaper 8.6 dynamically assesses the URLs of Web apps and identifies them by up to as four categories each. By scanning each Web app, the software can determine which of them deserves priority. An Oracle database application or a WebEx app for video conferencing a business meeting would be entitled to more bandwidth than someone accessing Facebook. However, not all Facebook usage is personal because the social networking site can be used legitimately for marketing.

By analyzing URLs more closely, PacketShaper can differentiatetraffic that is approved for company use from traffic that is personal. The Facebook game Farmville uses Adobe's Flash video and contains links to other gaming sites, which would indicate it's a game. Packetshaper would categorize Facebook as a social networking site, but if someone is on Facebook to playing Farmville, the URL would also be categorized as a gaming app and could be blocked or de-prioritized making room for more important traffic.

The PacketShaper OS is complemented  by Blue Coat's WebPulse Cloud Service, a community of 70 million Blue Coat users globally that also monitor new Web apps and can point out apps that should be allowed, squeezed or blocked altogether. Also new is Blue Coat IntelligenceCenter 3, a tool to enable reporting on the new classifications by URL categories. It features a a 10-fold increase in data collection scalability for enterprise-scale reporting to system administrators.

Blue Coat is also introducing the PacketShaper 12000 appliance, which will be available in December, to run the PacketShaper OS. Although the starting price for the appliance will be $55,000, a typical installation could run around $65,000 if the customer wanted a higher capacity 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) link rate. The model 12000 has a maximum 3Gbps link rate, twice the capacity of the previous generation PacketShaper 10000. PacketShaper 8.6 is included in the appliance and is available as a free upgrade on previous generation appliances as long as the customer still has a support agreement in place with Blue Coat.