Honda NZ Re-Optimizes WAN

Swaps out Packeteer device for Exinda, citing ease of use

March 1, 2007

3 Min Read
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Dianne Campbell, IS operations manager at Honda New Zealand Limited, was fed up. The WAN optimization gear her company had installed three years before wasn't delivering the kinds of reports her group required -- not easily, anyway. What's more, the one person skilled in the product had left the firm.

"We were using Packeteer but found it sort of very technical. It was quite hard to get any reporting out of it. We tried to get some training, but it didn't work out," Campbell says.

With 34 separate dealerships linked throughout New Zealand by relatively low-bandwidth connections, Honda couldn't forego optimization gear. Campbell's group looked at a few solutions, including one from Riverbed, before settling on an Exinda 4700 traffic management box.

"It's easy to use and the reporting gives us the visibility we need to quickly identify and control applications and Internet traffic," Campbell says.

The price was a selling point, too: Campbell spent roughly NZ$9,000 on Exinda's appliance -- about US$6,300. In contrast, she says Riverbed wanted at least double that amount.Honda New Zealand uses a single Exinda unit to report on and manage traffic between an IBM S/400-based host and Dell SAN at headquarters to 500 remote clients over connections ranging in bandwidth from 128 kbit/s to 512 kbit/s. The company deploys its data warehousing and SQL Server-based apps over this network, which is in the process of being upgraded to 1-Gbit/s Ethernet.

Campbell says Exinda's product helped her group identify Internet bottlenecks. Many of the company's dealerships, for instance, access a trading site to post second-hand cars for sale. But Exinda's reports turned up a couple of instances where the trading appeared to be going on longer than necessary. The visibility gave management the basis to investigate and revise some users' habits. It also helped them set policies that ensure data warehousing and other key apps get priority treatment. For example, customer requests get bandwidth preference over email.

All this isn't to say that Exinda's speeded up Honda's WAN traffic any. But Campbell says the ability to see what's happening on the network has enabled her to use bandwidth more efficiently.

Exinda is a relatively new kid on the block, at least in the U.S. market. Founded in Australia, the vendor started its U.S. push in 2005, with the opening of a Seattle office. (The vendor's U.S. headquarters is now in Boston.) Its lineup of WAN optimizers and application accelerators includes a 10-Mbit/s device released late last year. (See Exinda Intros WAN Appliance.)

Packeteer isn't threatened by news that at least one Asia-Pacific customer found its training lacking and its product daunting. "We offer training throughout the world, but New Zealand isn't a main center," says director of product management Steven House. He also acknowledges there are sometimes grumbles about Packeteer's complexity. "We have heard people say Packeteer has so much information in it that it's hard to use," he says. In his view, though, users who feel intimidated are those who'd prefer a calculator to a spreadsheet.As to availability of reports, House says Packeteer's Report Center is designed to centralize the device's information in an easy-to-use format. But he acknowledges that for some customers with smaller-scale requirements, the $10,000 price tag may be hard to justify.

Dianne Campbell is pleased to have moved on. Exinda's product "is easy to use... It's given us more visibility. I have to say we're pretty happy with it."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Exinda Networks

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • IBM Corp.

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