Shape up your WAN traffic
Packeteer and 8e6 traffic managers offer choice between luxury and thrift
The TurboPipe Engine expects to be positioned between the LAN and the WAN router, where it provides monitoring and shaping tools (preconfigured) for a wide array of WAN traffic including many popular network applications, such as AOL Instant Messenger and Doom, that administrators might want to limit on the WAN.
8e6 defines three types of traffic between sites: links, which represent physical connections; channels, which are tunnels of traffic with specific rules applied; and conduits, which are sets of multiple channels. Conduits might represent IPSec tunnels through the Internet to remote sites, for example, each defining limitations for a particular type of traffic such as ERP applications, streaming video, or file replication. Pass-throughs can be created to exclude the TurboPipe from monitoring traffic not intended for the WAN, such as traffic going directly to the Internet, such as Web browsing. A separate interface is even available for pass-through traffic, so that traffic going to the Web won’t be filtered at all.
Each link, channel, and conduit is defined with a minimum and maximum bandwidth. Conduits and channels are also associated with an SLA so that the overall connection, the connection to a specific site, and the application traffic to the specific site can be assigned different service levels. This hierarchy offers a simple way to ensure that links between sites are not accidentally oversubscribed.
The TurboPipe can measure bandwidth utilization across all links, conduits, and channels, with very specific statistics down to the round-trip time required for specific types of traffic. However, round-trip time collection requires a lot of processing overhead, so it should be used sparingly.
Top-10 probes can show the source addresses, source ports, destination addresses, and ports and protocols generating the most traffic. A similar report shows the top 10 conduits in terms of traffic generated.
The TurboPipe also provides a nice tool to notify you when you attempt to create a filter that conflicts with an existing filter. If you do so, it can either resolve the conflict or allow you to decide which filter will look at the traffic first.
The TurboPipe line seems to be oriented more toward ISPs than enterprises. With the emphasis on SLAs and the capability of handling multiple links, conduits, and channels, it offers sophisticated capabilities for monitoring and shaping WAN traffic -- although it does so without the enterprise features of PacketShaper, such as overall administration of a group of devices and site-to-site compression. With prices starting at $4,995 for the 2Mbps T20, the TurboPipe offers a lower point of entry than does the PacketShaper, but the extra cost for multiple consoles and software maintenance could soon eat up the difference.
PacketShaper 9500 Version 7.0
Packeteer's PacketShaper 9500 is a highly capable 2U appliance that's easy to install and configure. It also supports plenty of bandwidth -- as much as 500Mbps -- and hundreds of thousands of separate traffic flows. On the other hand, PacketShaper models start at $34,000 (more than twice the cost of TurboPipe), and getting full use of the system may require additional units at some or all remote sites.