SBC service to help prioritize apps

SBC Communications Inc. has unveiled a service designed to help customers ensure their most important applications are given priority when traveling across a WAN.

Called Application Performance Management, the offering is one of the first managed services to follow traffic at the application layer, says Michael Harris, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

The biggest hurdle SBC likely will have to overcome in selling the service is sticker shock, Harris says. For a customer with a T-1, the service costs approximately US$4,000 per site for equipment and a consultation, and then about US$500 per month, per site.

“Customers will have to make the choice between doing this kind of traffic shaping or just throwing more bandwidth at their problems,” Harris says.

For users who have slight bursts above their normal bandwidth consumption, traffic shaping likely wouldn’t be worthwhile, observers say. But for customers who experience big bursts, such as financial institutions doing large backups regularly, SBC’s service might be a fit.

The service uses equipment from Sitara Networks that sits between a customer’s LAN switch and WAN router.

Once SBC sets up the Sitara equipment, the carrier will monitor the customer’s traffic flow for two to four weeks. Then an SBC analyst will work with a customer to place its applications into one of three categories – business-critical, business-important and best-effort.

SBC will go over the customer’s network traffic monthly and make any necessary adjustments. Customers can view their application traffic at any time through a secure, Web-based portal.

In addition to its traffic-shaping features, SBC’s service provides local caching of frequently accessed Web pages at a customer site to reduce WAN traffic.

The service works with any type of WAN connection and is interoperable with Multi-protocol Label Switching, automatically mapping applications into an MPLS scheme.