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Blue Coat Tees Up 'Try-It' Service

Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI) today announced a new assessment service that enables service providers to analyze traffic in an enterprise network in advance of making sales recommendations.

The Blue Coat Assessment Service is a cloud-based offering that analyzes data from a Blue Coat PacketShaper appliance deployed on an enterprise network for up to a week.

"The appliance is loaned to the prospective customer and is used to generate the report for a channel partner or sales consultant about what is going on in the network, what apps are running, and how well they are performing," says Eric Tooley, technical marketing manager for Blue Coat.

This new sales tool can show whether the customer needs additional bandwidth to relieve congestion or whether the problem lies elsewhere -- say, in how the existing bandwidth is being used.

"The customer will say 'Oracle is slow' and they'll assume there is a problem with the network," Tooley explains. "Without objective data, however, you are pretty much throwing money at a solution without enough information to make a fully informed decision."

For example, it may turn out that employees are downloading content from iTunes or going on Facebook , and those applications are using up bandwidth that should be dedicated to mission-critical apps. [Ed. note: Yeah, like my Slingbox.]

Armed with results from the assessment report, the Blue Coat channel partner can make the appropriate recommendation -- which Blue Coat hopes will include use of a PacketShaper appliance to enable wide-area network optimization, ongoing assessments, and policy enforcement of bandwidth usage.

Such policy enforcement doesn't have to be onerous -- banning social network sites or other personal use is only one answer, Tooley says. What Blue Coat can enable an enterprise to do is protect its mission-critical apps by restricting the bandwidth that applications like iTunes can grab within the WAN.

"Most successful customers will, with a light touch, discourage undesirable behavior by making it slow," Tooley says."They will restrict the maximum bandwidth for a given app, so that downloading from iTunes will take hours, for instance, and people will give up because it's slow. " — Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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