On the Mark: Put the Internet in a box

Deploying IP-based applications across the Internet is simple. Testing how well they’ll perform is a bit trickier. After all, how do you mimic the Internet?

Turns out it’s not so difficult for the folks at Anue Systems Inc. in Austin. According to Kevin Przybocki, chief operating officer, Anue’s Network Emulator software running on its GEM appliance is, in effect, “the Internet in a box.” He says the custom hardware/software combination creates a virtual Internet, with all its digital warts, so you can evaluate how well your software will run when it encounters different Internet-based impairments, such as varied bandwidth or jitter. The company’s product can be used with other testing tools, such as load- testing software from San Ramon, Calif.-based RadView Software Ltd., which emulates the number of users on a system.

Currently, the Network Emulator uses canned application data to test loads. Przybocki says that later this month, Anue’s 1Gbit/sec. GEM appliance will be able to capture live data from an application and use it for tests. And in November, Anue will add that capability to its 10Gbit/sec. device. Przybocki says the amount of live data you use for a test is dependent on the external storage you supply. Each appliance can store and replay about 10 to 20 seconds of live data. Pricing starts at $20,000.

Crank Up Any IP App

Akamai Technologies Inc. is well known for boosting the performance of browser-based applications. This week, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is rolling out its IP Application Acceleration service for apps that use more Internet protocols than just HTTP, such as voice over IP and Web services. Neil Cohen, senior product marketing manager, says that although IT shops are increasing their dependence on the Internet to run their software, CIOs are still bound by service-level agreements that require adequate performance. Cohen claims that the new Akamai service keeps applications running in top form by ensuring that packets travel along the fastest, and not necessarily the shortest, path between destinations. To use the service, you are only required to house an Akamai- installed and -maintained gateway on-site to connect to the 25,000 Akamai acceleration servers the company has deployed across the global Internet. No data center or client-side software is necessary. Pricing is application-specific.

To PDF or Not to PDF?

Where do you stand on PDFs? Some companies love Adobe Systems Inc.’s immensely popular document format, says Brent Gaynor, vice president of marketing at Docudesk Corp. in Plano, Texas. But others are less than enamored of it, preferring, say, the OpenDocument format or Micro­soft Office. PDF fans have long been able to use Docudesk’s Desk­PDF client software, which can turn any file into a PDF. Now the company is doing something for fans of other formats with next week’s release of the ungainly named DeskUNPDF Professional, which lets you convert PDFs to other document formats. Gaynor claims that DeskUNPDF lets you keep true fidelity to the original document format, including fonts, spacing, bullet points and all manner of styles. What’s more, end users have a batch-mode option so they can render entire directories of documents into their favorite format from PDF (or vice versa, if they’re using DeskPDF Professional). Pricing starts at $59 a copy.

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