Blue Coat Systems has expanded its PacketShaper appliance with a major version that can now dig deeper into the network, to provide network administrators with a greater granularity of control over the business applications running on the network.

"The big news for us this week is the major new version of PacketShaper," said Dave Hewitt, product marketing manager for EMEA. "Blue Coat's vision is to provide visibility (to see and control what is gong on in network); acceleration technology (to boost performance of business applications); and doing all this in a secure network environment protected against against malicious content."

"The user interface of version 8.5 has been radically redesigned," said Hewitt. "We have raised the view into a single, unified workspace that allows IT administrators to see real time graphs and performance metrics for every application on the network."

"It is not overstating it to say that PacketShaper can now see hundreds of different applications, and is even able to see inside difficult applications such as Oracle or Skype," he told Techworld.

Back in June, Blue Coat released a software plug-in that allowed its PacketShaper appliances to tame bandwidth hogs such as Spotify, the online music service that is swallowing large amount of enterprise bandwidth (rougjhly 256kbit/s per user).

"The other important element to this release is its ability to see more," said Hewitt. "Currently PacketShaper see on average 650 types of applications, but this has been added to in this release, with visibility for about a dozen new applications."

"We have added a new level of granularity to voice awareness," he said. "VoIP uses a lot of different protocols. One of the challenges people have is with unsanctioned and sanctioned voice traffic."

"We can now allow the administrator to see the protocol being used. We can tell which application created that voice traffic, like a Nortel or Cisco IP-based handset, or even a soft phone like Google Talk," he said. "We have always been able to tell the difference between Skype and other traffic, but now we can differentiate down to the handset level, which created the traffic."

"Also a lot of people are looking at rolling out virtual desktops and we have gone deeper into the VDI stream," he said. "There are different types of traffic going over that stream, one is the interactive screen image, second is the log on and certification, and third is the ability to detach a virtual desktop from the server, and create an image that runs locally on say a the laptop (i.e. offline access). With the new PacketShaper, you can now manage virtual desktops, so for example to make sure that mouse movements (controlled by the user) are never held up, but a 3GB file transfer can be slowed down instead."

Version 8.5 of PacketShaper will beging shipping at the end of this month. Existing customers will be able to software the new software for free. For brand new users, a Blue Coat application solution start at around £2,000 ($3,340).

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