Certeon's virtual appliance provides application acceleration

Certeon's virtual appliance software provides application acceleration in a VMware environment -- the company says it will help you reduce your application response time by more than 95 percent to remote sites.

Wide Area Network (WAN) acceleration vendor Certeon has come out with what it calls the industry's first and only true virtual appliance for application acceleration. The company's acceleration product was designed with virtualization in mind and it is certified to work with VMware, the current virtualization market leader.

Certeon's virtual appliance is called aCelera, and the company claims it can deliver up to a 95 percent reduction in application response time for applications being accessed across the WAN. And because it is a virtual appliance, it does so with the added benefit of eliminating the hardware footprint and high cost of separately managed, single-purpose hardware appliances.

Virtualization administrators are looking for an acceleration solution that can leverage the ease of use, scalability, and flexibility that their virtual infrastructures provide. But they still want the same remote access performance benefits that are offered by traditional application acceleration. Certeon says that this is exactly what aCelera provides.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Shawn Cooney, founder and director of research at Certeon, and found out a little bit more about what the company is thinking and more about its virtual appliance software.

Q: From what you've seen and heard in the industry, how far along in the process would you say companies are in virtualizing their datacenters? We see many companies (probably over 65 percent) virtualizing their datacenters. Those same companies will soon be turning their attention to deploying virtualization at remote and branch sites so that they may also benefit from the ease of use and management of a consolidated set of applications and services. However, companies considering moving virtualization to the remote office will need to take into account the impact of the WAN overhead on remote application response time. How they address this issue will have a direct effect on how quickly they will be able to deploy access to virtualized applications to remote users.

Q: From that list of people going down the path of virtualization, what types of systems or functions are they virtualizing first (servers, storage, admin systems, etc.)?

Virtualization is not a new phenomenon. Storage has been virtualized for many years. Naturally, in the midst of datacenter consolidation, servers and applications are the primary targets for virtualization. Administration systems are the next to follow because of the ease of management associated with doing that. After that, the remote and branch sites seem poised to be the next frontier for the virtual infrastructure. Application Acceleration, desktop images, critical applications, and network services can be deployed and run without the headaches and costs of having to locally manage an IT infrastructure. High-performance function for all of this remote and branch activity requires the Application Acceleration component, which virtualizes the network connection to the datacenter and provides optimized access, reducing bandwidth use and response times.

Q: What are some of the pain points that companies are seeking to address with virtualization?

IT cost reduction primarily; although lowering datacenter energy consumption and cooling requirements seem to be the primary pain points. All of these pain points also exist in remote and branch offices and can be addressed by virtualizing branch environments. There is also a move for IT organizations to deploy a more SOA infrastructure, along with taking back management control via centralized systems. What end-users are looking for with virtualization is reliability, high-performance access, and security.

Q: What are the challenges with virtualization, and does it sometimes add more complexity or decrease performance?

An often overlooked challenge associated with virtualization is the impact of the WAN when application traffic from multiple distributed sites are all converging upon a centralized datacenter. Virtualized datacenters are quickly becoming the epicenter of remote site activity as they access mission-critical applications and content. This increased traffic over the WAN from remote sites accessing centralized virtualized applications will only exacerbate the remote access performance issues experienced by today's distributed enterprises.

Q: What is Certeon doing to help those companies that have already migrated to a virtualized datacenter? How are you helping with their performance and cost savings efforts?

Certeon has recently introduced a virtual appliance for application acceleration in a software-based product named aCelera. Certeon's aCelera virtual appliance software allows IT managers to easily integrate application acceleration into their virtualization deployments at the datacenter and in remote sites, without adding costly, proprietary hardware appliances. aCelera virtual appliance software can be provisioned throughout a distributed enterprise from a centrally managed datacenter, and its performance benefits can actually help IT managers facilitate their deployments of virtualized applications to remote branches.

Cooney and I also discussed the value of combining virtualization and acceleration. By Certeon creating their acceleration software in a virtual appliance format, the company is able to easily provide central management, ease of maintenance, high availability, and enhanced resource allocation just by leveraging the power that VMware already provides. Hardware appliances don't have that flexibility.

Certeon's pricing for the aCelera virtual appliance starts at $2,495. Today, the appliance works with VMware environments, but the company plans to support Microsoft Hyper-V as well as other virtualization platforms in the future. And for those companies who haven't started taking advantage of virtualization in their environment, the company still plans to offer its earlier hardware appliances.

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