Efficiency vs capacity

Blue Coat president and CEO Brian NeSmith explains to Telecom Asia contributing editor Lalou Ramos why bandwidth is secondary to processing speed and why application acceleration will be a huge market Telecom Asia:

There seems to be a collective focus on network optimization and application acceleration these days, what's behind this trend‾

Brian NeSmith: You are right, everyone is looking at it. You have Riverbed, and there is Peribit acquired by Juniper Networks, Swan Labs acquired by F5 Networks, Orbital Data acquired by Citrix and Actona acquired by Cisco. We all believe application acceleration will be a big market that is clearly representing a broader trend taking place. If you think about what has been accomplished over the past 20 years in the networking side, a remarkable job was done in providing universal connectivity.

But what starts to become clear, however, is that as more applications run across different types of network infrastructure, there will be performance and security limitations, and even if you have an infinitely fast network, congestion will create latency. Security will also be an issue because if you want your network to be accessible by many parties, you open it to malware and threats.

Ultimately, what's going to evolve here is another layer of infrastructure, enabling functions as caching, compression, application intelligence - all of them working to make applications faster and more secure.

Which brings to mind a report from Gartner last year suggesting companies look at investing in application acceleration instead of increasing bandwidth. Do you think this makes sense‾

Bandwidth is really insignificant, what matters is that you are able to process in 4 seconds what normally takes you four minutes to do so. We are glad that end-users are becoming aware of that.

Blue Coat acquired NetApps' NetCache assets in June last year, how is the integration going so far‾

It's an interesting acquisition in a sense that we didn't actually acquire the technology but the rights to resell the product over a period of time and tap on its customer base. So there really is not much to do from the standpoint of technology transition. In fact, there are customers that have already transitioned from NetCache to Blue Coat prior to the acquisition. What we plan to do is resell the NetCache products for a year and over the course of three years have the NetCache customers migrated over to us.

You also introduced last year a technology called 'Multi-protocol Accelerated Caching Hierarchy,' what does it do and how can it benefit companies‾

MACH5 provides protocol optimization, object and byte caching and compression to speed applications and content and reduce bandwidth usage in accordance with enterprise policy.

Interestingly, our customers for MACH5 are the directors of IT and telecoms, typically male between 40 and 60 years old. If you grew up in the same period as this age group, then you must have watched this Japanese anime called 'Speed Racer' and the character there had a fast car called MAC5. To us, MACH5 symbolizes speed and how and fast things run on a network.

Do you have any plans in the management space‾


That one area we are looking at. There are hundreds of thousands of networks all over the world, and right now and there are only some basic platforms for managing them.

What's ideal is for the IT department to be able to take your qualitative assessment of a performance issue and figure out why that is happening in the first place‾ So when you call in and say your application is slow, then IT can determine that from that ten seconds delay in response times,  2 seconds delay was DNS query another 1.5 second is network latency. When you see that everybody in that subnet is slow, then maybe something is wrong in devices installed in that part of that network and that this server is down. There is really a lot to be done in this area, and no vendor has so far come out with a product that can deal with these problems as effectively as they should.

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