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November 7, 2010

Blue Coat takes wraps off new PacketShaper traffic management platform

'Game changer' can differentiate between business and non-business traffic - even if it's from the same URL

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Network performance firm Blue Coat has announced a major update to its PacketShaper appliance that aims to improve control of web traffic by distinguishing between business applications and non-work related data.

PacketShaper 8.6 introduces a classification by URL category, which the company says enables organisations to differentiate between business apps and non-business traffic, even if it’s from the same website. This is something other traffic management systems cannot do, Dave Ewart, senior marketing manager for Blue Coat in EMEA told CBR.

"Lots of business traffic has moved to the web through SaaS and cloud and so on," he said. "But this means that it’s more important to be able to see inside the traffic as recreational traffic is on the increase as well. This is a game changer as you no longer have to just look at URLs; it gives much more awareness of web traffic."

"It’s a response to the need for greater insight and clarity," Ewart continued. "It’s not just control for control’s sake. It offers a better use of the bandwidth that companies are paying for. Business critical applications will run faster and better because they will not be competing with non-business traffic."

Rather than just blocking or restricting traffic from a certain site, PacketShaper 8.6 can categorise the traffic that hits a company’s network, so a status update on Facebook is given higher priority than Facebook games, Ewart said.

As new games are added to Facebook, for example, an IT manager does not need to manually update the policy for handling games. PacketShaper will recognise that it’s a game and will automatically categorise it as such, Ewart said.

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To help this categorisation, PacketShaper 8.6 integrates with Blue Coat WebPulse, a cloud-based community of 70 million users that provides information on websites and applications. This allows Blue Coat to classify applications and URLs into one of 80 different categories using information gathered from its community of users. Ewart described it as an on-demand ratings service, with new information pushed out to the community in near real-time.

Blue Coat has also enhanced IntelligenceCenter, its reporting feature for PacketShaper, which introduces a ten-fold increase in data collection capability. It can also generate different reports for different parts of the organisation, Ewart told CBR. For example, the HR department can generate reports based on training while the network managers can examine information regarding application performance.

Blue Coat has also announced a new high-end appliance, the PacketShaper 12000. Slated for release in December this year, it is said to more than double the performance of the current 10000 appliance. IT can manage 3 Gbps of aggregate throughput for typical enterprise traffic, the company said. Prices for the new PacketShaper 12000 start at $55,000.

PacketShaper 8.6 is available as a software update for all customers with a current support contract for a PacketShaper appliance.

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