Performance technology drives long-haul Web apps

No matter how hard programmers work coding a Web application, the public Internet just isn’t up to handling the global demands of corporations needing high volume transaction processing, argues Brian de Haaff, director of product management for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Netli.

He sums up the basic perception of Web performance outside the data center: “The farther you are from the application the worse your performance is, and sorry, that’s just the way it is.”

This may pass for hardnosed realism among IT professionals, but it means programmers have spent a lot of time coding and load testing a Web application only to find that global adoption is less than overwhelming.

“People just don’t adopt the application,” de Haaff says. “We find that the application developers do a great job QAing the application, load testing it, but most of that is done in the lab in the data center across the LAN. There isn’t a good understanding of what will happen when that application is pushed from the data center.”

The problem, according to de Haaff, is with the “long-haul segment” of the good old “information superhighway.” Performance degradation happens as the end user requests and application responses travel around the globe from say a data center in California to a remote office in Australia.

“The only solution companies have had was to build out regional data centers around the world,” de Haaff says. Of course, that is an expensive solution. And not surprisingly, his company has another idea.

“What Netli has done is build what we consider the natural evolution to the content delivery network,” he explains, “taking a completely philosophical 360 degree different approach. We’ve built an application delivery network. It has a limited number of virtual data centers around the world to act as onramps for the end users. We place a device close to the customer data center, which is the onramp for the application. And then over the long-haul segment of the Internet we improve upon the protocols.

"Specifically, we reduce the number of round trips that it takes to complete a transaction or a page download from standard of 20 or 30 for a page to one or two. That’s our Application Delivery Network (ADN). What differentiates it from the content delivery approach is you can make the Internet in the long-haul segment perform well. We’ve taken out the major cause of the latency and loss and allowed companies to centralize their application."

While Netli, founded in 1999, is still a start up, it has attracted some big name customers that are buying into the company’s patented Web application performance enhancing technology packaged in its flagship product, Netlightening. Dell, Boeing, Kimberly-Clark, Samsung, Motorola, Texas Instruments and Lexis-Nexis are among the corporations using the Netli approach.

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.