Bandwidth Managers: Going With The Flow
by Edwin E. Mier, Vincent J. Battistelli, and Alan R. Miner
Posted 9/17/2003; Published 4/2003




A bandwidth manager is a specialty network appliance. It plugs into your LAN and keeps a watchful eye on everything coming from and going to the WAN. But it doesn’t just watch: When conditions warrant, the device will take aggressive remedial action to ensure that bandwidth is made available to users, servers and traffic types in whatever manner the enterprise network manager specifies.


Our research turned up a half-dozen vendors with products advertised as being able to manage bandwidth. MierLabs then devised a detailed test methodology, oriented towards managing the bandwidth of a DS3 capacity (44.736-Mbps) WAN link. The methodology was sent out along with an invitation to these vendors, asking them to submit their latest and greatest wares for an open, competitive review for BCR.


Three vendors, whose products collectively account for the bulk of this burgeoning marketplace, accepted the challenge:



Allot Communications, which submitted its AC-302 NetEnforcer.


Packeteer, which sent us its PacketShaper 4500.


Sitara Networks, which provided two of its QoSWorks QWX10000 units.


After nearly a month of exercising the products in every bandwidth-management scenario we could think of, Allot and Packeteer ended up virtually tied. When it all was over and with all results considered, we concluded Packeteer edged out Allot by a whisker.


The ability of all three products tested to automatically analyze, classify and then, in real-time, manipulate connections and bandwidth, is impressive.


Fully two-thirds to three-fourths of the tasks we defined and applied for this review were performed successfully, and to the same functional degree by all the products tested. The areas that distinguish the products are in their handling of VOIP traffic and advanced features.


About the authors:

Edwin E. Mier is President, Vincent J. Battistelli is VP of operations and Alan R. Miner is VP of technology analysis at MierLabs Inc., a network research and product test center based in Hightstown, NJ.

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