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November 2011

Application - aware networking emerges but has far to go

In a business environment dominated by cloud computing, mobility and Web-based applications, enterprises need smarter, application-aware networks to ensure performance. But while application awareness is emerging on individual Layer 4-7 network components, such as firewalls and WAN optimisation appliances, there’s still a way to go in generating application-intelligent policy across these components. What’s more, application intelligence in Layers 2 and 3, where it could be most crucial, is a way off. Why the need for application-aware networks now? Ten or 15 years ago, Layer 4 visibility was application-aware enough. If a router could see the port destination, it could make a decent guess about the nature of the application and apply quality of service (QoS) policy. With the same information, a firewall could decide whether to allow or deny traffic. If it was headed for Port 80, for example, it was pretty clear that it was HTTP traffic. It was a best-effort affair. But today, best effort isn’t good enough. Hundreds of ...

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