Packeteer centralizes policy management

Packeteer this week announced new centralized policy management and operating system software for its bandwidth management devices that the company says lets users more easily deploy and scale quality-of-service management routines.

The policy management software, PolicyCenter, offers centralized policy management for Packeteer devices running the company's new operating system software, PacketWise 5.0. Those devices include the company's PacketShaper and AppVantage bandwidth management and traffic classification products, which sit between routers and LAN segments and apply TCP rate-based, flow-control policies to individual traffic flows and classes of flows based on Layer 4 to 7 packet information.

PolicyCenter is a stand-alone Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory-enabled application that runs under Windows NT. It lets customers centrally administer and update PacketShaper and AppVantage policies, software versions and device status for Packeteer-based networks. PolicyCenter includes a common policy-configuration user interface with PacketShaper and AppVantage, which means that users won't have to learn a new interface to configure other Packeteer devices.

For users with multivendor policy management systems, PolicyCenter includes an XML-based management API to ease integration. This API enables the exchange of application and user performance data with other centralized policy management, reporting, billing and subscriber management systems, Packeteer says.

Packeteer has already established XML interoperability with Hewlett-Packard PolicyXpert, InfoVista and Portal Software. The firm is working on integration with other vendors.

Analysts say the interoperability achieved through XML is very rudimentary.

"These management products are using it in very vendor-specific ways," says Dave Passmore, research director at The Burton Group in Sterling, Va. "We still need a common directory and schema and a common XML dialect, such as the Directory Services Markup Language, before much in the way of multivendor interoperability will be achieved."

Packeteer says PolicyCenter's LDAP support also will enable integration with other directory-resident information for policy configuration.

PolicyCenter Server for PacketWise 5.0 will be available later this quarter at a cost of $6,000. PacketWise XML API is free with PacketWise 5.0 software, a new version of the operating system for PacketShaper and AppVantage that also debuted last week.

PacketWise 5.0 also includes a high-availability option for high-traffic nets, enhanced classification capabilities and support for 25 new applications. Among the applications it can discover and classify are Attachmate, Citrix VideoFrame and Napster.

PacketWise 5.0 also supports a new dual-port Ethernet interface card for PacketShaper and AppVantage that lets users deploy a single device in remote sites with WAN routers supporting multiple LAN segments. Until now, users were required to deploy multiple units in these sites.

The software's high-availability option provides support for automatic failover to a secondary Packeteer device for high-traffic environments. Enhanced classification includes "http sub-classification," which classifies applications according to HTTP 1.1 host name, browser type, or content type.

This lets network professionals more easily determine which applications are malicious or hostile, Packeteer says.

A free upgrade to PacketWise 5.0 is available now to PacketShaper and AppVantage customers with a current maintenance contract.

April Jacobs contributed to this story.

This story, "Packeteer centralizes policy management" was originally published by Network World.

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