Exclusive: Stampede tramples WAN bottlenecks
WebRider accelerator wrangles better Web performance from slow WAN links
WebRider also boasts advanced TCP connection management. On slower links, such as those with high latency or congestion, each TCP and HTTP session handshake can greatly degrade performance; WebRider keeps the TCP sessions open, reducing TCP chattiness and improving performance.
To bump up acceleration more, WebRider bi-directionally compresses Web content -- such as HTTP headers, cookies, and attachments -- and even reduces JPEG file image resolution on the fly to further reduce file size and speed up overall performance. This is a nice bonus not found in many other accelerators.
The application policy engine is the acceleration brain. Choices made during policy creation determine how content is cached and what types of traffic optimization are available. WebRider uses the concept of inherited policies for this, allowing for a "top down" approach to policy definition. When multiple policies are managed using the inherited settings feature, a single policy change on a top-level policy makes all lower policies inherit the new setting.
Birds of a Feather
In overall concept, WebRider is a lot like Riverbed's Steelhead 2000 WAN accelerator appliance. Both solutions reduce TCP chatter, optimize data transmission, and provide cache differencing. Both products really shine when link quality is at its worst and both substantially reduce the time needed to move data through the enterprise.
Yet there are differences. Steelhead requires an appliance on each end of the circuit, making it harder to justify expensive hardware in a small remote office. However, it works on all TCP traffic, such as FTP and CIFS, not just HTTP and HTTPS.
WebRider, on the other hand, requires just one appliance in the datacenter with the optional browser plug-in deployed at the client side. Its lone drawback is that it only accelerates HTTP and HTTPS traffic, ignoring any possible performance gains in other chatty protocols such as CIFS. The only way to make WebRider available to all TCP protocols is to get the plug-in out of the browser and into the OS. That would take a major change in how Stampede currently builds the plug-in and a major shift in thinking; I don't think we'll see it any time soon.
WebRider is great for remote offices that need to access Web-based applications over typically poor links. Cache differencing, the TurboStreaming technology, and reducing network chatter all dramatically improve performance.
I would like to see the plug-in available for platforms other than Windows and support for other TCP protocols so more applications could benefit from the performance boost. For Web-based applications, however, WebRider is an excellent tool for squeezing the most out of your bandwidth allotment.