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Whether your company is massive or miniscule, everyone's experienced the pain of working remotely. The screen refreshes seem to take hours. File transfers go to a crawl. It's little wonder that application acceleration technologies are so hot this year. It was only a matter of time before application acceleration outsourcing would go mainstream with Verizon Business's new Application Acceleration Services suite announced this week.
The suite consists of three offerings. The core service, Application Acceleration, introduces an express lane across the Internet that will accelerate Web-based applications 300 to 600 percent without adding equipment to your home, office, or a company's data center. The service is a rebranding of Netli's NetLightning or at least that's what we're told. We had to confirm that fact by phone because Netli's Web site was unreachable at the time -- not a good thing for an application delivery service.
Perhaps Netli should be using two of it's services being sold as part of Verizon's Application Acceleration suite. Application Continuity, an add-on service, rebrands NetliContinuity and provides redundancy between data centers. This allows IT to direct traffic to backup data centers as necessary, for example in the event of catastrophic failure, or in the event of a planned event, such as a maintenance window. Application Acceleration Portal is a rebranding of NetliView, and enables businesses to maintain, measure, and report on the health of their Web-based applications.
Application acceleration has been a very hot area for the past 18 months. A 2005 Gartner Group study said sales of application acceleration products should reach $1.5 billion in 2005. A far cry from the Ethernet switch market's evaluation of $15 billion, according to Infonetics Research, but nothing to sneeze at. Gartner expects the market to hit $2.3 billion by the end of 2009.
All of the major networking vendors have made acquisitions in the application acceleration space during the past year. Juniper Networks Inc. purchased Peribit Networks and Redline Networks in April, 2005 followed by Cisco's acquisition of FineGround. F5 Networks acquired Swan Labs in September, 2005 and Citrix Systems grabbed NetScaler.
These products may be seriously threatened the Windows Server 2003. The new O3 builds WAFS capabilities into operating system. (To learn more about WAFS, AFEs, and the implications that Windows Server holds read "Centralize Your Servers").
Application services are an intriguing alternative to the Application Front Ends (AFEs) and WAFS appliances offered by the networking vendors. While both pieces of equipment boost networking performance, AFEs have deployment advantages in that they don't require any equipment at the client-location. This makes them easier to deploy and more adept at working with users on the road as well as those sitting in an office. WAFS appliances both in the remote office and in the data center, which often means they're better at speeding up applications.
Application acceleration services offer the ease of deployment of an AFE and the performance boost of a WAFS appliance. Verizon isn't the first service provider on the market to tackle the problem of improving application response time. Cable & Wireless (C&W) offers such a service. But Verizon-Netli service blends Netli unique application smarts with Verizon's brawn.
First the smarts. Verizon balances performance and ease of deployment by redirecting remote Web users to local Virtual Data Center (VDCs) sprinkled across Verizon Business's (formerly MCI's) global Internet backbone. Once traffic hits the VDC it traverses the Internet on Netli's proprietary protocol to the VDC closest to the data center. The VDC and data center communicate using standard HTTP and TCP protocols. Between the VDCs, Netli accelerates traffic using a variety of optimization techniques such as Fast Start, caching, predictive object delivery, and session management.
Now the brawn: Verizon Business is targeting companies with data centers in the US and offices around the globe. To reach those office, Verizon has rolled out 28 such VDCs today between the US, Europe, and the AsiaPac using the Verizon network. Coverage in Africa and Middle East is in the process of being built out. Verizon guarantees that corporate users will be within 30 milliseconds of a VDC.
Users should expect 99.99 percent availability of the application acceleration network. Companies with office in the US should see a 300 percent performance improvement in North America and from offices in South America to North America. All other regions will see a 600 percent performance improvement. No performance SLAs cover Africa or the Middle East. SLAs covering the data infrastructure are provided by Verizon Business on the data services ordered from Verizon.
Something to think about all you would be buyers, however. Pricing is steep. The service starts at $6,650 per month per application or just about $80,000 per year. WAFS appliances may be more affordable. They run around $50,000 for the data center alone and another $10,000 for the remote office, although there are additional personnel and reoccurring costs that must also be considered.