The good folks from Certeon brought their new aCelera application acceleration software appliance to my attention a short while ago. After my recent conversation with Coyote Point, it's beginning to appear that protocol and data caching and optimization tools are going to be the trend du mois. Certeon believes it can accelerate typical application environments by reducing the impact of WAN latency, pack loss, and contention by applying a great deal of intelligence to the data stream. In my experience, network I/O traffic is the first place to look when an organization is trying to deal with application performance issues.
How Certeon describes aCelera
Certeon's aCelera™ is the first virtual appliance software to run natively within a virtual machine (VM) infrastructure and to provide true application acceleration across the wide area network (WAN). aCelera software delivers the same application response time reduction as its proprietary hardware appliance counterparts do, with the added benefit of eliminating the hardware footprint and high cost of separately managed, single-purpose boxes. aCelera software runs on industry standard x86 system platforms.
Certeon's aCelera Virtual Appliance software has been tested and certified by VMware.
What Certeon is really doing
Certeon has developed "application blueprints" for commonly used network services, such as Microsoft's SharePoint, EMC's Documentum, and SAP's business applications, that allow aCelera to optimize and accelerate the following functions:
- Protocol layer: HTTP, TCP and CIFS streams
- Transport layer: Packet compression, Forward error correction, Traffic prioritization and packet aggregation.
Certeon has encapsulated the software applications into a VMware virtual machine and allows this to be dropped into a VMware-based environment to immediately improve application performance. The company claims more than 95% improvement in application response time.
Certeon has integrated aCelera into VMware's Virtual Center (and has gotten VMware certification) to make the software easy to manage.
I expect Certeon to make this software appliance available in other vendor's virtual machine environments as demanded by Certeon customers.
Most of today's applications are a complex stack of software providing access services, application services, data management services and file management services. If an organization is experiencing an application response problem, it can be very difficult and costly to determine what the root cause of this performance issue and address it directly. Rather than going to that time and trouble, organizations often merely upgrade the underlying hardware. If the performance issue either goes away or is significantly reduced, the organization declares victory and goes back to work.
If one looks as today's application architectures, the most likely places to look for performance issues are 1) network performance issues, 2) storage performance issues, 3) data management performance issues (often a system memory constraint), 4) application design and implementation issues and, finally, 5) insufficient processor power. So, the typical approach focuses on the tail rather than the dog.
The approach offered by Certeon appears to both be cost effective and to directly addresse what is likely to be the root cause of many application response time issues, network inefficiency.