July 19, 2004
The elevation of P-Cube Inc. to the dizzying heights of Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies has thrown the spotlight on the recent arrival of a competitor, the U.K.'s CacheLogic Ltd. (see P-Cube Tiptoes Into the Top Ten).
CacheLogic announced its Streamsight 510 last week, but the news got swamped by the results of a survey it conducted with the help of some early customers (see CacheLogic Launches P2P Analyzer). The survey showed that a new generation of protocols has exploded onto the P2P scene, headed by BitTorrent (see P2P Gets Serious).
Like P-Cube and a bunch of other vendors, CacheLogic aims to conduct "deep packet inspection" of traffic. Although this can be used to help service providers deal with P2P traffic, it can also be put to use in more constructive ways. For instance, it can help identify low-hanging fruit [ed. note: was that "deep pocket inspection?] in the form of services that might attract particular types of users.
The big difference between CacheLogic and P-Cube is in how they go about conducting the deep packet inspection.
CacheLogic does it all in software, saying that the P2P market is changing so fast that service providers need to be able to upgrade their analysis tools regularly to be able to identify the latest traffic types. BitTorrent, for instance, is only one of a whole new generation of "swarming" P2P protocols that break up files so they can be downloaded from multiple sites at the same time. A raft of other protocols have emerged, including Chord, Peer Distributed Transfer Protocol (PDTP), and The Circle.
P-Cube takes the view that deep packet inspection has to be done in hardware to be able to analyze flows in carrier networks that can run into multiple megabits per second. Milind Gadekar, P-Cube's marketing VP claims to have tests results indicating that other software-based appliances from Allot Communications and Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR) run out of gas at 300 to 400 Mbit/s. "Given megabit speeds, we just don't see how a software solution would work," he says. (Allot and Packeteer, however, primarily target enterprise networks.)
This view is shared by Benoit Legault, marketing VP of Ellacoya Networks Inc., who says that custom-built hardware is "an absolute requirement" for carrier networks. Legault also notes that shaping traffic at such speeds, something that Ellacoya and P-Cube do, is even more challenging.
Andrew Parker, CacheLogic's CTO, says its Streamsight 510 has already proved that it can analyze traffic flows of up to 1 Gbit/s, in the trials with early customers -- Tier 1 and 2 ISPs -- that generated the previously mentioned survey results. It's also worth pointing out CacheLogic's heritage: It was spun out from Zeus Technology, a company that got a reputation for having the highest performance Web server software.
CacheLogic's first products aimed to help service providers manage P2P traffic on their networks by caching it (see Caching In on P2P). As noted, the Streamsight 510 aims to be more constructive, by helping network operators identify potential services they could offer different user types. In order to do this, it can associate applications with subscribers, a feat that both Ellacoya and P-Cube also claim to be able to do.
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
For more on this topic, check out:
The coming Light Reading Live! event:
— Light Reading's Next-Generation Services Roadshow,
Sept. 13 in New York, Sept. 15 in Burlingame, Calif.
For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars:
Coming to Grips With Peer-to-Peer Traffic
Controlling P2P: Who’s Stealing Your Bandwidth?
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