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Interop: Vendors Target Network Video Traffic

With businesses struggling to control the increasing traffic of bandwidth-hogging video on corporate networks, a number of vendors at Interop next week will be offering products to help ease the pain.

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One such vendor, eTelemetry, plans to introduce an upgrade of its Metron appliance, which monitors and tracks bandwidth usage within a WAN. With Metron 2.0, the company has added the ability to go beyond passive tracking and actually control the amount bandwidth used by an application and by an employee based on the person's job.

With people within an organization being a major source of video, it makes sense to target that source to relieve network congestion problems. "We're really focused on the people level," Alan Schunemann, CTO for eTelemetry, told InformationWeek. "[Controlling usage] of each person in a department is a lot more difficult to do."

With surveys showing employees using 25% of a company's bandwidth for personal use, congestion can be reduced significantly through the use of tools like eTelemetry's, Schunemann said. Installing the latest version of the appliance on a network gives IT staff the ability to assign bandwidth to individuals, which means they will experience serious slowdowns if they try to exceed their allotment.

In addition, the appliance lets businesses block access to specific Web sites, a feature that would come in handy during big sporting events, such as the recent NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship -- also known as March Madness.

Metron 2.0 is scheduled for general availability in the summer. Pricing starts at $15,000 for 500 users. At the same time, eTelemetry plans to release a version of the appliance for small and medium-sized businesses. The new product will deliver the same features at a much lower price, Ermis Sfakiyanudis, president and chief executive of eTelemetry, said.

Blue Coat Systems is also attacking video usage on corporate networks, but is taking a purely technological approach. The company plans to demonstrate its ProxySG appliance that caches video downloaded from the Internet, so it can be delivered to other employees to avoid having them each go out to the Internet to get the same video.

For example, if an IT worker goes to a tech site and watches a video, then others going to the site will get the same page, but the video will come from the appliance's cache. "Unless you have the granularity to do that, then you have to block the entire domain," Steve Schick, marketing director for Blue Coat, told InformationWeek. "Corporations usually don't want to be that draconian."

The same caching mechanism is used for internal videos, such as when a CEO wants to send a video message to the troops. "We joking call that an ego-cast," Schick said.

Rather than each person in a branch office, for example, getting a separate stream, the video can be downloaded to the Metron appliance first, and then distributed.

ProxySG is available now with prices starting at about $3,000.

Blue Coat this week acquired rival Packeteer for $268 million. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of June, would add some significant features to Blue Coast appliances.

Those include better technology for prioritizing network traffic, so certain applications get a guaranteed amount of bandwidth. While Blue Coat today has similar features, "what Packeteer developed is even more advanced," Schick said.