Route optimisation eyed for network efficiency

Network efficiency achieved through route optimisation technology can lend a much-needed hand to IT executives trying to do more with less in these times of shrinking budgets, according to Allan Leinwand, president and CTO of Proficient Networks Inc. in a talk Wednesday at the InfoWorld CTO Forum.

Route optimisation, which allows organisations to tune their Internet connection to match the needs of applications, can yield significant cost and performance efficiencies, Leinwand said.

"What route optimisation allows you to do is look at Internet connectivity as an asset and manage it as part of the business," he said.

In the early 1990s when the Internet was first tied to business applications the focus was primarily on connectivity. Over the past decade, the focus has shifted to concerns over availability, performance, and now toward reaching optimal efficiency, according to Leinwand.

Early CDN (Content Delivery Network) services offered a way to accelerate Internet traffic, but what CDN customers became most excited about was ramping up application response time and tuning connectivity to match the needs of best customers, he said. The process of finding the best route used to be done manually by tweaking the path of traffic every few minutes depending on the best route, he said. Leinwand formerly was an executive at CDN provider Digital Island .

Eyeing this business need, Proficient Networks packaged this connectivity tuning capability into an appliance, dubbed the Network Policy Engine.

Route control's ability to apply business logic to the networks allows an Internet connection to be a source of competitive advantage, Leinwand said, by giving enterprises a way to shave costs while boosting performance of applications and services.

The Network Policy Engine sits on the LAN and communicates to enterprise routers via PGP. The appliance collects data on the network and sorts traffic based on volume, he said.

The business benefits are having complete control over Internet traffic and lowering the cost of network operations by minimizing bandwidth charges and better managing peak usage billing, he said.

"Route control can accelerate applications and make applications more predictable," he said.

Illustrating the benefits, Leinwand pointed out an example of a large financial services company that turned to Proficient Networks to transform its private WAN infrastructure to a more resilient public IP VPN design.

The company deployed Proficient Network Policy Engines at each of its branch office sites to manage broadband and multi-homing infrastructure, and as a result eliminated more than half of its annual networking expenses, Leinwand said.

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