Former caching specialists are leveraging technology developed for cloud-based security to save ISPs some big bandwidth bucks

April 5, 2010

3 Min Read
Blue Coat Bringing Caching Back

Back when the Internet was first booming, companies such as CacheFlow popped up to alleviate congestion by caching popular content closer to eager consumers.

Now, as a new generation of Internet traffic issues arise around mobile backhaul and international traffic, Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI), the new name for CacheFlow since way back in 2002, is hoping to cash in on its caching heritage with a new carrier product -- the BlueCoat CacheFlow Appliance 5000 Series.

The product is the most recent announcement from BlueCoat, which in recent years, has put its technology to use in areas such as security, focusing on both Wide Area Network and performance optimization.

Throughout that period, Blue Coat has continued to work with service providers, says Jeff Brainard, director of service providers products, and now sees many of those service providers starting to struggle with some of the same issues that ISPs faced in the original Internet boom.

"With high-speed smartphones and embedded devices, plus the fact they are seeing these crazy traffic spikes around specific events, many of our service provider customers are seeing this traffic explosion,” says Brainard. “This time around, the Web has changed. It’s no longer small static images, but dynamic content and large files."

For international service providers, this has become a particular problem because the content many of their customers want to access is based in the US or elsewhere, and the bandwidth to reach that content is expensive. That is what is making a new generation of caching interesting to these service providers, Brainard says.

"For service providers, bandwidth is not free," he adds. "Especially in places like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia Pacific, bandwidth is very expensive. The vast majority of requests for Web content they get are going long distances."

Blue Coat has gone back to basics in terms of leveraging its heritage in caching and learning from many years of experience to design its latest Web caching platform with increased throughput and the ability to cache dynamically generated URLs, Brainard says. Blue Coat says its new system can save 45 percent to 50 percent in bandwidth costs.

At the same time, Blue Coat is using its current security-based technology to keep its caching platform updated on the latest Web activity. The CacheFlow Appliance 5000 uses Blue Coat CachePulse, a cloud-based service that automatically updates the cache appliances to changes in Web content and content popularity, using the same service points that Blue Coat has deployed for its WebPulse security service.

"Blue Coat has dusted off that whole concept of forward proxy caches and redesigned it for the different types of problems that the service providers are having," says Melanie Posey, analyst with IDC . "The first thing they are focused on is ISPs in emerging markets who are getting slammed by internal network backhaul costs, and also international transit."

Blue Coat's approach is unique because the company is leveraging the cloud-based technology it already uses for Web-filtering to enable the constant updating of caching rules, Posey says. Future iterations will include the ability for service providers to provide direct feedback into the system, she says.

"Packaging all the pieces of this into one appliance is particularly valuable for the emerging market," Posey says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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