Crescendo customers praise app acceleration module

Two customers of Crescendo Networks said this week they will be adding the company's newest software module to boost application transaction speeds.

The new Application Layer Processing (ALP) module from Crescendo was announced last month at Interop Las Vegas 2006, where it won Best in Show. Working atop Crescendo's existing Maestro appliance, the module is designed to accelerate the flow of data in applications and databases across the Web, said Michael Long, vice president of marketing at the Tenafly, N.J.-based Crescendo.

One of the two Maestro customers, Syntenic in Montreal, is testing the new module before rolling it out to alleviate application and database performance bottlenecks behind its Web servers, said Ian Rae, president of Syntenic.

Syntenic provides managed services for companies such as Wandrian in New York, which runs a Web application for rail travel reservations and services in 40 countries.

One potential value of the new module is to help Syntenic prioritze requests made by Wandrian users to prevent long waits, Rae said. For example, a request for information about the distance or time of a multi-link rail trip could be moved behind customers actually ordering tickets.

Syntenic is already running two Maestro 5020 appliances, each with eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, which have already helped reduce Web connection retransmissions by 50 percent, Rae said. The appliances also provide data compression rates of up to 50 percent of any given content. "If you have a crappy connection, you want to minimize the content," he said.

Another Maestro customer, SkyVantage in Salt Lake City, plans to roll out the ALP module next month, said Cory Robin, CEO of the airline consulting and reservation company.

SkyVantage has been using Maestro 5080 appliances since late last year to accelerate transmission of applications, perform load balancing and offload Secure Socket Layer functions to bolster server performance, Robin said.

SkyVantage, which is used by smaller airlines, already has 100 servers and had been adding about one server per week. Maestro reduced the demand on servers -- and the need to purchase new ones by 60 percent, he estimated. Setting up a server with Maestro is now a 10-minute job, compared to the hours of work needed before. An additional benefit is that Maestro also keeps a record of server response times and will use that information to automatically balance tasks across servers.

Robin said he found Crescendo after a long search of companies, including F5 Networks, Foundry Networks and Citrix Systems.

Even though Crescendo is small, with about 40 employees, and is four years old, Robin said it has been a good provider and has made Skyvantage a high priority, providing quick service when needed. Although there were concerns about whether Crescendo would fold or be acquired, Robin and his team decided to judge Maestro on its current capabilities. "We're happy the way it is running right now, even without updates," he said.

The Maestro appliance with the Application Layer Processing software starts at US$52,000; ALP for existing Maestro customers costs US$7,500, Long said.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group in Boston, said Crescendo's appliance has a good reputation with customers so far, although the application networking market is made up of a "crowded field of competitors" including those that Robin evaluated as well as Cisco Systems in California and Juniper Networks in California. The market for application networking product, sometimes called application acceleration products, is valued at an estimated US$1 billion worldwide, according to Gartner.

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