Network Optimization News
Editor's review of bandwidth control, QoS and traffic shaping solutions

The following review is intended to give our readers a quick kick off point to find a product that suites their needs. We
point out some of the basic features that caught our attention.

Packeteer
(www.packeteer.com)

                                                       The cream of the crop.  Packeteer sets the standard in detecting , analyzing and                
                                                       shaping just about anything that runs on your network.



What we like best:

Detailed reporting and an extensive library of protocols that you can use to detect and report just about any type of traffic
that is on your network.

Engineered for large enterprise networks and service providers.

Who should buy Packeteer:

The IT department that must know exactly what is going on in their network. This is the tool for you.

What you need to know:

Setting up specific policies to control traffic on your network is an ongoing task. Plan some engineering tune up time
every several months beyond the purchase. Network traffic patterns change as new applications arrive and older
protocols become obsolete.  Many administrators just use the sophisticated reporting tools because of the complexity
in maintaining traffic policies.

Cost:

Packeteer is consistently one of the more expensive solutions, but you get what you pay for.  Top engineering in a
limited market has to be re-cooped and we commend Packeteer for taking this on.

Look to pay $10k on up for their full featured product and about $1.5k annually for updates. They recently announced a
small enterprise product for around 2k

Needs for improvement:

Packeteer may need to analyze their model as Bandwidth costs drop into a commodity, In some markets it may not be
cost effective for this much sophisticated technology.

Allot NetEnforcer
(www.allot.com)
                                                                        
What we like best:

                                                                        We rarely hear any complaints about this product, the engineering is solid,
                                                                        the support is superb. Does most of what you can do with a Packeteer at
                                                                        lower price, including solid reporting. Has sophisticated methods to divide up
users into pools. Engineered for large enterprise networks and service providers. Allot is a privately held company,
generally this implies a high degree of integrity.

Who should buy NetEnforcer:

Mid to large service providers and enterprise IT departments who need a reliable solution.

What you need to know:

Plan on dedicating a few hours a month to tune and maintain your unit after your initial install.

Cost:

Mid range to high end look to pay around $6000 for their full featured product on up.

Needs for Improvement:

A bit complex to set up and use; however once you have it set up to your liking it offers excellent accuracy.

NetEqualizer
(www.netequalizer.com)
             





What we like best:

Automated simple to use intelligence for the novice user. Well suited mix of some of the higher end features without
the cost. No recurring license or usage fees.

Cost:

Expect to pay around 2k for their enterprise class system (10 megabits of shaping).  

Who should buy NetEqualizer:

Their offerings dip into the affordable range for smaller ISPs and enterprises while maintaining quality and a rich
feature set. Solid performance for organizations of 6000users or less that are interested in saving some money.

What you need to know:

Expect to spend some time on installation validating bandwidth management for your situation. NetEqualizer does
automatic traffic shaping based on traffic behavior, not rules.

Needs for improvement:

Reporting is basic, does not have all the details of some of the higher end products but is sufficient for most IT
managers.

Redundancy is accomplished via Spanning tree protocol which requires an external switch supporting this feature.

Peribit Lan Accelerators
(recently acquired by Juniper Networks)
                     
                                                            
What we like best:
                         
                                                           Peribit WAN accelerators use compression which requires no policies or training
                                                           to use.  Juniper NetWorks sells this product as solution with a full range of
integrated security products. No recurring license or usage fees (only for upgrades when adding more bandwidth or
users).

Cost:

N/A ????

Who should buy Peribit:

Enterprises who are locked into expensive WAN contracts with T1 providers or satellite links.

Needs for improvement

You need two boxes for any solution to do compression and decompression of data.  This is the nature of the
technology.

Editors note:

Please contact individual companies for accurate pricing and specific details on performance. Many companies offer
lower end starter products than what we have listed.

QoS note:

Quality of service (QoS) is actually an ad hoc collection of technologies and techniques. Factors that effect QOS on a
network, involve details in implementation that networking vendors often differ on.  It is beyond the scope of this
thumbnail review to compare QOS options and various vendor implementations. Please feel free to contact our editors
for objective referrals on the subject. Most of the products reviewed above offer some form of QOS using one or more
implementation methods.

Riverbed Wan Optimization System
(http://www.riverbed.com/)
                                                    Riverbed has invested heavily in putting together a high quality system of
                                                    compression and overhead reduction techniques. They will give the established high-
                                                    end solutions a run for market share.

What we like best:

Solid technology set to take on other compression and optimization technologies. Their products are targeted to make
a company LAN work ubiquitously from remote locations.

Who should buy Riverbed:

The company with a large distributed LAN/WAN at multiple remote locations.

Cost:

We did not have pricing information at press time, but the solution involves integrated hardware at all locations to be
optimized, we suspect it is not a low end solution. Expect to pay comparible prices with Allot and Peribit (juniper)

Needs for improvement.

Make sure to validate their perforamance claims with an EVAL before investing in this technology. 100 percent gains
may not be realistic in many networks.

For more news, click here for the archives.
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