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Q&A: Interview with Instart Logic Talking Cloud and SaaS Acceleration

Peter Blum heads product management and product marketing at Instart Logic, which just unveiled two new and improved technology offerings: the Global Network Accelerator and Dynamic HTML Streaming.  I've previously spoken with Peter both when he was at Citrix, where he was senior director of product management and marketing for the XenClient product, and when Instart Logic launched its Web Application Streaming Network in June of this year.  So I thought that I'd follow up with him and see what these new offerings are all about.

VMblog:  Instart Logic recently announced a new SaaS acceleration offering. What new features and capabilities were included?

Peter Blum: We're actually unveiling two major improvements specifically designed for accelerating cloud-based SaaS applications: the Global Network Accelerator and Dynamic HTML Streaming.

The first item is a major improvement to our Global Network Accelerator offering. Our Global Network Accelerator speeds information from the SaaS application backend to globally distributed end users. It accelerates data transfers to break through performance barriers at the networking level.

It now uses a new purpose-built binary protocol speeding data efficiently across the middle-mile of the Internet. We place one of our servers close to the SaaS application backend and one close to the end user. Then this new protocol goes between our servers. It’s called IPTP (Inter Proxy Transfer Protocol) and was built using Google’s open source protobuf technology. It sets up a persistent matrix of connections between Instart Logic’s global serving locations, and then efficiently frames and multiplexes dynamic HTTP and HTTPS transfers through it to erase network bottlenecks caused by distance and congestion.

The second Dynamic HTML Streaming is a new application-intelligent technology that distinguishes between the unique and non-unique dynamic HTML that powers web applications. This solution automatically sends portions of the web application that are the same across all users from the closest Instart Logic server so the user can start being productive with the web application much sooner than a traditional approach. In this latest iteration the system has been expanded to leverage Instart Logic’s transparent client side virtualization layer, the NanoVisor, to allow use with even completely personalized HTML code.

VMblog: What changes are you seeing in the SaaS market that would lead to a solution like Instart's being necessary?

Blum: The use of cloud based SaaS applications has really exploded in the last few years and so I just don’t think this group of application providers were getting much attention from the traditional web delivery providers like the content delivery networks. So up until now SaaS providers rarely used any delivery optimization solutions or just made due with basic solutions built more for a static websites not addressing the unique needs of SaaS. But as these applications continue to become more dynamic and personalized and the users get more and more global they need solutions that go beyond the basics of Content Delivery Networks. So our solution has been built specifically with cloud based SaaS providers in mind and deals with the new realities of the end user coming in with mobile devices on wireless networks. Our solution is smart enough to go through a SaaS application's code and, without making any changes, deliver it in the most efficient way possible. That means that the end user is going to see an up to 2x improvement in their delivery time, a massive improvement.

VMblog: Why can't a SaaS provider just use a traditional CDN offering like Akamai?

Blum: Content delivery networks like Akamai were originally build 10+ years ago and they were trying to solve delivery for static websites where every user had the same basic experience on a wired desktop connection. But SaaS applications are totally personalized and dynamic. Each user gets a totally unique experience and so the caching that CDNs focus on does not really help. If you want to see real improvement then you've got to be able to go beyond the network layer that CDNs operate at and understand how the web applications actually run in the end users browsers. So we’ve found that there is a better way to approach web applications, and that there is a real performance gain to be had from our approach. From understanding how these web applications work across a broad set of users and browsers we can make smart decisions that lets us stream the web applications to modern browsers providing much higher levels of performance. Best of all, we're not asking for any more than what you would pay a provider like Akamai.

VMblog: Do you count any SaaS providers among your customers?

Blum: Absolutely. We're currently working running a good number of SaaS providers in production today. Some great examples are New Relic, which delivers an web based application performance tool to measure online benchmarks, and VersionOne, which delivers agile project management software to 50,000 developer teams globally. The latter saw a 50% improvement in their performance after adopting our solution. Other Instart customers in the SaaS space include If This Then That and RelateIQ.

VMblog: It seems like Akamai tried to do a lot of what Instart is trying to do in its partnership with Riverbed. Why, in your opinion, did that partnership fall through?

Blum: There is a big migration of business applications going from internally hosted in a corporate datacenter to being hosted in the cloud. And at the same time the users are no longer sitting in corporate and remote offices. With the app backends going all over the place and the end users doing the same these older WAN optimization controller architectures where you put one box next to the applications and another next to the end user break down. You can’t put enough Wanopt devices near the apps and the end users anymore. But it seems like Akamai and Riverbed were trying to do just that by essentially putting a bunch of Wanopt devices around the internet. The issue is that they just can’t get enough boxes out there, so they only support a limited set of cloud apps, and from what we hear the cost is prohibitive as well.

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Once again, thanks to Peter Blum, VP of Product Management at Instart Logic, for taking time out to speak with VMblog and answer a few questions.

Published Wednesday, November 06, 2013 2:40 PM by David Marshall
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