Company adds twist to Internet routing

RouteScience Technologies Inc., a two-year-old company developing policy- and performance-based routing products, Monday unveiled its first offering.

PathControl is a device that monitors the performance of client/server transactions across several ISP networks to calculate the best-performing path through them. Once PathControl determines the optimal path based on performance, it overrides BGP path selection in edge routers.

PathControl sits at the edge of Tier 2/3 ISP and Web hosting service provider networks, or at the WAN edge of enterprise networks. When a Web server receives a request for content, PathControl adds a GIF file of a couple hundred bytes to the content in order to monitor the performance of the request/receive transaction through the Internet.

Based on this performance data, PathControl then updates BGP edge routers with policies on where to route specific IP address destination prefixes for optimal performance. PathControl can even optimize routes among Label Switched Paths engineered through Multi-protocol Label Switching, RouteScience officials claim.

PathControl does not determine least-cost routing, but enables users to define route policies based on ISP link cost as well as performance.

PathControl can double the application transaction speed for 50 per cent to 80 per cent of destinations, on average, and up to 10 times faster for “poorly served” end users, RouteScience officials claim.

The product can also provide predictable, deterministic Internet performance regardless of the amount of congestion and delay in the Internet core, company officials claim.

PathControl performance measurement instrumentation – the couple-hundred-byte GIF file – is a passive, non-intrusive agent that avoids pings and uses minimal network resources, RouteScience officials claim. The device also generates hundreds of thousands of updates daily, and can send them automatically to BGP edge routers.

The system also generates real-time prefix-by-prefix ISP performance and route optimization reports that can be used to evaluate end-to-end transaction performance and negotiate service-level agreements.

PathControl is currently in field trials and will ship in October. Pricing ranges from US$140,000 to $250,000 depending on the device configuration.

Entry-level pricing includes a modular, 14-slot chassis that occupies eight rack units and support for two ISP links. Optional modules can be added to support additional ISP links and enhanced reporting features.

Former Cisco Systems Inc. executives Herb Madan, Jim McGuire and Joel Evanier founded RouteScience in December 1999. These executives also founded performance management vendor Netsys Technologies in 1991. Cisco acquired Netsys in 1996.

RouteScience, based in San Mateo, Calif., is at