Blue Coat Updates PacketShaper for HTTP Traffic

Blue Coat has announced an update to its PacketShaper appliances that provides finer-grained control of web traffic through the ability to discriminate between business applications and less important traffic that can have stricter bandwidth restrictions imposed.

Available from today, the PacketShaper 8.6 platform is designed to address the issue that HTTP traffic is increasingly business related, but existing traffic management systems are unable to differentiate between business apps and other traffic that might be coming from the same internet site.

"Recently, companies have begun looking more to the web as a delivery platform for applications, via the cloud and software-as-a-service. But, while there is growth in application traffic, there is also growth in recreational content coming in via HTTP," said Dave Ewart, senior marketing manager for Blue Coat in EMEA.

Previously, bandwidth-hogging content could be tackled simply by blocking its web address, but legitimate applications are increasingly inside the same domain.

"You have to be more granular in approach," said Ewart, pointing out that Facebook might be legitimately used for status updates and chat, while companies would want to restrict bandwidth to Facebook games.

The major breakthrough in PacketShaper 8.6 is integration with Blue Coat's WebPulse cloud service, already used to analyse web-based threats encountered by Blue Coat Secure Web Gateway devices.

This information is providing Blue Coat with a growing knowledge base of web-browsing behaviour that is automatically fed back into the policies used by PacketShaper to control traffic, the firm claimed.

"The upshot is that PacketShaper knows by default what type of content - we call them groups - any new web URL is, and there is a default policy controlling each group," explained Ewart.

This is a key feature, as IT departments do not have to constantly update policies to control every new web site that users are looking at, he added.

"The network manager does not need to keep on top of the new FarmVille or the new Mafia Wars. The PacketShaper knows that it's a game and, if the manager has defined a policy for treating games a certain way, all new games will come under that control," he said.

The PacketShaper 8.6 platform is available as a software upgrade for all Blue Coat customers with a support contract for their PacketShaper Appliance.

Blue Coat also announced enhancements to its IntelligenceCenter reporting platform, which supports a tenfold increase in data collection capability to cope with the expected increase in report data generated by the new PacketShaper platform.

The company also unveiled a new high-end appliance, the PacketShaper 12000, capable of handling up to 3Gbit/s of aggregate throughput, more than double that of the existing PacketShaper 1000.

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