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Mix of tech brings warp speed to WANs

It's been a pretty big week for Aspera, the company known for working out ways for organizations to safely and securely transport large amounts of data, something the government is particularly interested in because of both security concerns and the size of their files. 

The company announced new versions of most of its flagship products this week, including the release of Enterprise Server, Connect Server, Point-to-Point and Client 3.3, faspex 3.5 and Shares 1.5, Console 2.0 and Aspera Sync 1.4, as well as a new Faspex Mobile Client for Android. That's a lot of new features in a lot of programs, all of which seem tailored for the federal government.

But hidden behind all that product news is another milestone the company achieved: connection speeds over a WAN that exceeded 10 gigabits/sec. 

Aspera teamed up with Intel for the speed project. The problem many data centers face is that, although high speeds are easily achieved within the data center, moving that data out to users over a WAN can still create bottlenecks. Aspera used Intel platforms with the Data Direct I/O technology (DDIO) found in Xeon processors along with Aspera’s fasp  transfer software to achieve the higher speeds. 

The combination of hardware and software lets Intel Ethernet controllers route I/O traffic directly to the processor cache with built-in support for Single-Root I/O Virtualization. It works regardless of whether the hardware platform is physical or virtualized. The end result was a 300 percent performance increase over systems that were not similarly equipped.

A key to the experiment is that Aspera’s fasp transport technology, which operates independent of TCP and network latency, really has no theoretical throughput limit. It's only limited by the hardware it runs on and the LAN or WAN capacity. So adding Intel hardware specifically designed to help with large data transfers would likely improve performance when used with fasp, which is what the Aspera and Intel experiments showed.

For government agencies trying to add more content to their WAN while maintaining speed, the fasp protocol combined with Xeon E5-2600 chips (which happen to be standard on many servers and workstations) could help eliminate content bottlenecks. A detailed whitepaper showing the testing methodology and the impressive results achieved was released this week, and should be required reading for anyone trying to get just a little more performance out of their existing networks.

Posted by John Breeden II on Aug 09, 2013 at 6:26 AM


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