Two Approaches To Network Optimization At RSA

It's a given that complexity grows as networks expand, as more performance demands are placed on networks and as security protections are required. One approach to tackling that complexity is network intelligence optimization, a technology in which a fabric layer sits between the infrastructure layer--the routers and switches--and the network intelligence layer--tools such as intrusion detection, application monitoring and advanced threat protection systems--and knits them all together. At the R

February 28, 2012

4 Min Read
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It's a given that complexity grows as networks expand, as more performance demands are placed on networks and as security protections are required. One approach to tackling that complexity is network intelligence optimization, a technology in which a fabric layer sits between the infrastructure layer--the routers and switches--and the network intelligence layer--tools such as intrusion detection, application monitoring and advanced threat protection systems--and knits them all together. At the RSA Conference 2012 this week in San Francisco, two companies are introducing network optimization solutions. While both are hardware appliances, one product is targeted at enterprises, while the other is targeted at the small-to-midsize business (SMB) market.

VSS Monitoring is introducing the vOne network management system, which comprises three main elements: vNode, to connect the various intelligence tools running at various speeds and in physical or cloud environments; the vStack interconnection protocol, which connects the vNodes into one mesh network; and vOne, the management dashboard.

Net Optics, meanwhile, is introducing its new Spyke appliance (just switch two letters and it could be a VoIP communications service), which does basically the same thing. Spyke is targeted at the SMB market, whose networks are becoming just as complex as those of enterprises and service providers.

Last summer, two vendors, Infineta Systems and Silver Peak Systems, launched offerings intended to address network optimization and big data.

Infineta, a provider of what it calls hyper-scale WAN optimization systems, announced its Data Mobility Switch (DMS), promising instant five- to 10-times bandwidth capacity gains, IP traffic acceleration, and critical application prioritization and assurance over multigigabit WAN links (the Hyper-scale WAN).

Silver Peak took another approach to addressing the hyper-scale or east/west data-center-to-data-center data deluge--as opposed to the north/south data-center-to-branch WAN optimization market--with its NX-10000 (NX-10K) appliance. Billed as the industry's first multiple-Gbps WAN optimization appliance, the NX-10K reportedly delivers three times more capacity and throughput performance (256,000 simultaneous sessions) than its nearest competitor in a two-rack-unit (2U) form-factor featuring four 10-Gbps interfaces, 2.5 Gbps of WAN throughput, and optimization for all IP traffic and applications in a single appliance.

Tony Zirnoon, director of global security strategy and enterprise marketing at VSS Monitoring, compares its solution to Lego blocks. "It allows you to use all the different building blocks to create this cohesive network intelligence optimization fabric. It provides scale and visibility and delivers actionable data to each tool."

VSS is hardware-agnostic, he continues, so it can work with Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and other networking hardware, as well as with different brands of tools. It also works in WAN and LAN environments, and on 1-Gbit Ethernet (GbE), 10-GbE and, when it comes, 40-GbE networks.

Net Optics takes a more targeted approach to its network optimization fabric, according to Daniel Aharon, senior director of product management. He says that other network optimization management vendors overwhelm a customer with data of different metrics, but that Net Optics delivers just the key performance indicators. "We believe that in many cases an abundance of information is actually a challenge by itself," he states.

For example, Net Optics gathers intelligence on how certain applications are running using deep packet inspection (DPI), but not of every packet. It does what the company calls ad-hoc packet capture and analysis. "We capture a window of detailed data," he explains. "If, based on some threshold, an event is triggered ... we immediately take a snapshot of the detailed information that we have and make it available for problem troubleshooting."

Net Optics has network intelligence optimization technology for larger customers and serves Fortune 100 companies in the finance, telecommunications, government and other enterprise markets. Spyke is aimed at SMBs that would be attracted to its plug-and-play simplicity.

Both VSS and Net Optics also count Gigamon and NetScout as competitors, along with major players such as IBM and CA.

Speaking about VSS, Olga Yashkova, a research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, says organizations that employ network monitoring and management can achieve higher service availability, lower labor costs for network analysis and lower analysis costs overall.

Rob Markovich, the worldwide sales and marketing director for VSS, says its system does more than just optimize the network. "Ultimately, the goal is to optimize the bottom line for IT, enabling them to regain agility but ultimately to maximize the ROI that they can gain from ... managing all these disparate tools that they have to deploy," he says.

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