Caching vendors to debut new software


MAHWAH, N.J. -- Two Internet caching vendors, Radware and Network Appliance, will roll out new versions of their load-balancing and caching software at NetWorld+ Interop '99 Atlanta next week. The products are designed to give corporate network users faster and easier access to the Internet.

Radware will unveil Cache Server Director (CSD) 1.3, which lets net managers automatically balance Internet traffic between cache servers and redirect traffic in the event a cache server fails. Among the new features is support for the transparency function that is found in cache servers such as those from Inktomi, Novell Networks, Cacheflow and Network Appliance.

Transparency saves time because it doesn't require net administrators to make changes to each user's browser. CSD also automatically routes Web requests to an appropriate cache server and increases performance on the return path by directing 'Net content to the end user without additional intervention of CSD.

"With transparency, we can implement cache servers without ever visiting the users' desktops, thus saving a lot of time we could allocate to something else," says Ian Barraclough, senior network analyst at BMC Software in Houston. "We put CSD in the way of the Internet, and it takes care of the rest. The users don't even know they are being proxied."

BMC also uses CSD to speed performance to its intranet and the Internet for more than 6,500 network users, many in geographically disparate locations.

CSD sits between the network file server and the cache server farm and intercepts Internet requests to Port 80, the default for HTTP traffic. In addition, it will intercept up to 20 other defined ports, including those for File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

"The ability to accept any traffic that uses a port -- SMTP, netnews, newsfeed or FTP -- allows that traffic to be managed," says James Cimino, president of Bright Ideas, an Internet consultancy in Edison, N.J. "This is particularly important with Secure Socket Layer used in electronic commerce transactions. Because of encryption in SSL, its transfer is inherently slow. If you can improve that by caching, you have a lot to gain."

Radware has also added a utilization index and URL policy management to CSD. The index lets IT managers monitor how traffic and resources are being handled.

The URL policy manager provides the ability to block traffic to particular URLs and IP addresses or forward traffic for certain content that is not logically cacheable directly to the Internet. It also allows requests for specific URLs or IP addresses to be directed to a specific cache server.

CSD 1.3 costs $7,900 and is shipping now.

NetCache upgrade

Also at Interop, Network Appliance will announce the shipment of NetCache 4.0, the software operating system for its caching appliances.

This release will include support for Network News Transfer Protocol and let IT staffers block access to newsfeeds by user, group or time of day. It will use a new scripting language or graphical user interface to limit or grant access and software from Secure Computing that contains lists of inappropriate sites.

NetCache 4.0 will ship this month with any caching device from Network Appliance. Current customers will be able to upgrade free and downnload the software from the company's site. The appliances start at $17,000.

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