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Packeteer takes aim at high-speed bandwidth management

Packeteer takes aim at high-speed bandwidth management

Packeteer today announced new products and software in a bid to help service providers and enterprises handle the demands of high-capacity networks driven by applications like VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), videoconferencing, and Web services.

Like its forerunners, the latest entry in Packeteer's PacketShaper line of bandwidth management devices -- the PacketShaper 8500 -- uses predefined policies to classify application traffic and enforce bandwidth allocation. But Packeteer has aimed the 8500 at high-speed OC-3 networks, offering speeds of up to 200Mbps. (By contrast, Packeteer's former top-of-the-line box, the PacketShaper 6500, only supports 100Mbps.) The 8500 also boasts support for over half a million simultaneous data streams and 20,000 concurrent users.

The 8500's high-speed support comes largely as a response to service provider customers seeking to manage subscribers and deliver new services at their central offices, according to Jeff Barker, Packeteer's director of product marketing.

But he also noted that the 8500 could appeal to large enterprises, many of which are moving toward OC (optical carrier)-3 connectivity. Among the top applications are mission-critical ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and VPN (virtual private network) tools, according to Barker.

A version of the PacketShaper 8500 with copper Gigabit Ethernet interfaces will be released later this month. Another version with a fibre Gigabit Ethernet interface is expected in the first quarter of next year. Pricing will range from $US22,000 to $49,000.

Packeteer also announced version 5.2 of its PacketWise operating software, which drives the PacketShaper devices. The new version lets users create MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) networks, which enhance IP routing technologies by adding QoS (quality of service) criteria such as class of service, priority, data rate, and forwarding path.

Again, the new software was driven by the needs of service providers, who have been rolling out meshed IP networks and using MPLS to connect customers via VPNs, Barker said. But MPLS only delivers in the service provider's environment. PacketWise 5.2 was designed to extend service definitions through to the last mile, according to Barker.

"We can extend the benefits of MPLS end-to-end," he said.

The software upgrade will be available later this month at no charge to Packeteer customers.

Apart from meeting the demands of advanced services like VoIP, many customers use the PacketShaper/PacketWise combination to stave off network congestion brought on by non-essential peer-to-peer traffic, Barker said.

"It all started with Napster," he said. "Napster's been put to bed by the Justice Department, but there is latent demand of 50 million users and probably 100 follow-on peer-to-peer applications that have come to the Internet."

Peer-to-peer traffic can be especially troubling. The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a Packeteer customer, mostly because peer-to-peer downloads, streaming video, and even casual Web browsing can interfere with UCI's backbone performance, according to Ted Roberge, UCI's manager of residential network services. Some 85 per cent of UCI's outbound and inbound traffic is peer-to-peer, Barker said.


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