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Cloud Communications Feature

May 17, 2011

Report Reveals Blue Coat MACH5 Outshines Riverbed Steelhead in Application Acceleration

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

While rivalries exist in all facets of business, the WAN optimization market is no stranger to the competition. In a new report, WAN optimization solutions company Blue Coat (News - Alert) Systems recently pinned itself against industry leader Riverbed to reveal which company comes out on top in performance.

Broadband-Testing, an independent network testing lab and consultancy firm for broadband and network infrastructure solutions, measured the WAN optimization capabilities of both companies in the Blue Coat-commissioned report. Results unveiled that Blue Coat’s MACH5 appliance beats out Riverbed’s (News - Alert) Steelhead appliance in terms of cloud-based and Web applications performance and streaming video optimization, but remains on a level playing field for other tasks.

According to Steve Daheb, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Blue Coat Systems, general WAN optimization tasks like e-mail, file access, backup and FTP revealed similar results for the two companies. However, Blue Coat revealed in the report “an extremely large performance advantage… in those areas that are becoming increasingly more business critical.”

In testing for cloud-based applications performance, Blue Coat’s MACH5 model performed an impressive 93 times faster than Riverbed’s Steelhead 1050 during document assessment in a Salesforce.com (News - Alert) application. While Riverbed’s Steelhead 1050 lacked a symmetric deployment to accelerate the public cloud application, the MACH5 is coupled with a CloudCaching Engine to accelerate content and cloud-based applications asymmetrically.

The Blue Coat MACH5 appliance also outperformed the Riverbed Steelhead 1050 model by 10 times during tests with internally-hosted Microsoft (News - Alert) SharePoint. When placed in Web-based environments, the MACH5 model was able to adjust more seamlessly than other competitive solutions.

When it came to managing and optimizing video traffic, Blue Coat demonstrated “clear superiority,” according to the testing report. Blue Coat’s unique video optimization capabilities, when compared to Riverbed’s, are proven to more successfully mitigate the effect of network traffic and stop video floods from surpassing other applications.

When 20 concurrent users used the Riverbed Steelhead appliance to access on-demand video from Microsoft Windows Media Server, the entire WAN bandwidth was consumed. However, when 500 concurrent users used the Blue Coat appliance, only 30 to 35 percent of the entire WAN bandwidth was confused for a short period of time. Then, consumption lowered to less than 5 percent.

While it’s clear that Blue Coat outperforms Riverbed for more unique tasks, the report showed the two companies are neck-in-neck for traditional tasks. "The results were basically a TIE between Riverbed Steelhead and Blue Coat MACH5...” according to the report. “In each of these tests, each vendor was relatively close to the other's performance, with no significant differences."


Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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