In this hyper-networked age, bandwidth, latency and other network considerations can seriously impact the availability of a litany of critical IT resources, not to mention the concerns they raise about the viability of an enterprise's disaster recovery system.
Apposite Technologies was born from the unique challenges confronting storage and other IT assets over a network. It offers IT shops an array of WAN emulators it says can predict what a network deployment will deliver in terms of usability, replication and other factors to a far greater degree of accuracy than trials on a local network can deliver.
"Storage is more and more becoming a networked resource," explained Apposite President DC Palter. "Everything from shared drives to remote backup and disaster recovery, to cloud storage, to data center replication is taking place over the network. And this creates new challenges."
In addition to the basic bandwidth limitations that constrain every networked environment, mission-critical operations can be hobbled by factors such as latency and packet loss, which aren't as readily understood by users.
"Everyone understands bandwidth," Palter said. But often that understanding is limited to the context of the time it takes to transfer a file of a certain size over a network of a certain speed. What some users don't necessarily understand is the multiplier effect that a factor like latency can have on slowing down the transfer of large files.
"The challenge for us is that the effect of bandwidth, latency and loss on networked storage is not well known among users, particularly those focused on storage," Palter said. "If they think about it at all, users tend to assume that vendors have solved these problems, but most storage vendors are really in the early stages themselves of optimizing for use over a wide-area network. So we have to help educate the end user community about the issues before we can convince them that they need to run some simple tests on system performance as part of the evaluation and decision process."
Based in Los Angeles, Apposite was founded in 2005 by a team that had previously worked together in the WAN acceleration field. They found that that technology suffered from a lack of adequate testing tools. As a result, customers who wanted to get a glimpse of what to expect from a WAN acceleration deployment had to ship physical equipment to far-flung locales and reconfigure their network to run the test--a costly and time-consuming proposition.
"We looked for a good simulator to recommend to customers but couldn't find anything appropriate," Palter said. "We saw the lack of test tools as a serious hindrance to the adoption of valuable technology."
Palter links the recent rise of networked storage with the increasing adoption of 10 Gps data infrastructure. For many firms, the move to 10 Gps, long hailed as "the next big thing," was put on hold amid the economic downturn of the past three years. "It's suddenly happening this year, and not just in a few leading-edge sectors but at large enterprises across the spectrum," Palter said. As a result, storage is commonly now treated as a networked asset with an array of local, back-up and cloud tiers, he explained.
Apposite offers a product portfolio that includes two series of WAN emulators--the Linktropy and higher-end Netropy. Each model within both product families emulates bandwidth, latency and jitter and packet loss, and all but the lower-end, portable Linktropy Mini 2 emulate congestion. Each is calibrated to a maximum bandwidth speed, and the Netropy series of network emulators model conditions on up to 15 separate WAN links.
Apposite argues that sophisticated network emulators are the only tool sufficient to gauge network conditions with the level of precision that businesses need to make informed choices about their network deployments. In that spirit, Apposite's devices are "drop-dead simple," according to Palter, who said his company caters to both small businesses and larger enterprises.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here
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