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Riverbed Technology Inc. next week will jump into the application switching fray when it introduces its own unique twist on the function—a fusion of compression, caching and Web acceleration.

The San Francisco startup chose to address more than just slow Web application response times for traffic traversing a WAN with its new appliances, which combine multiple functions to speed TCP application response times.

The Steelhead appliances are targeted at distributed organizations with multiple remote locations. Installed at both the data center and remote offices, the appliances recognize “chatty” applications and the redundancies in the protocol handshakes that go on between TCP client and server, and then eliminate the redundancies to boost performance across the WAN by 100 times, according to Alan Saldich, marketing director at Riverbed.

“For things like (large) file sharing, what normally takes eight hours can be sent in 10 minutes. If you have a 100MB AutoCAD file, it’s like emptying a bucket with a teaspoon,” he claimed.

For applications that use TCP-based protocols such as the Windows Common Internet File System or Messaging Application Programming Interface, a simple action such as dragging a file from a remote file share to a local desktop generates 3000 or 4000 client/server interactions. And those application protocols will limit how much data in the payload can be sent at one time to between 8K and 64K.

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