Published June 19, 2001
Volume 9, Number 6

PacketStream's First Product a Bandwidth Wizard
Dynamic Stream Manager Gives Networks New Functionality
PacketStream's Dynamic Stream Manager is the company's first product. 

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor 

PacketStream, a Hacienda startup dedicated to improving the performance of Internet Protocol (IP) computer networks, has released its first product, the Dynamic Stream Manager (DSM). 

The company, which currently employs 20, has been located in Hacienda since its founding in 1999. The company has kept a low profile while working towards the release of the DSM but made its public debut at a recent trade show.

The DSM allows network managers to guarantee performance of selected applications or uses by prioritizing network traffic in real time. 

"It's pretty advanced technology in the sense that, to a very fine level of detail, it can manage a customer's bandwidth based on what applications it wants to see go through or what end users it wants to see go through," says PacketStream's director of marketing Don McCullough. 

The device, which uses technology patented by PacketStream, solves a long-standing problem with IP networks: Bandwidth is usually shared among all the users on a network, with the user most in need of that bandwidth using the current available capacity. It's a great system for transferring files but doesn't work very well for videoconferencing and other rich media applications like voice over IP where users need a constant flow of data to ensure optimal performance. 

"Let's say people are downloading a bunch of files," says McCullough. "They're going to gobble up all that available bandwidth and you won't be able to do a video session, a voice session, or a critical application." 

That's where the DSM comes in. The device can recognize different types of network traffic and can be configured to set aside a certain amount of bandwidth for those applications. 

The DSM solves another problem inherent in IP networks. Network traffic within a business is usually directed by routers or switches that can process a limited amount of information at any given moment. If the information is delivered from the network to the router too quickly, that data simply falls by the wayside and the sending application re-sends it later. Again, it's not that big an issue for those transferring files if the information gets there a fraction of second later, no one notices. A delay in audio or video data, however, means dropped video frames and gaps in the conversation. 

The DSM addresses this issue by analyzing the network traffic and releasing data to the router in streams that meet but don't exceed the router's capacity. Critical uses get the bandwidth they need and other uses get bandwidth as it's available. 

The DSM can handle streams of up to 100 megabits per second, a much higher rate than competing technologies. The product has been received well in the marketplace in the eight weeks since its introduction.


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