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Blue Coat Updates PacketShaper Appliances With Improved Visibility And Control

Networking solutions provider Blue Coat Systems announced on Tuesday that it has released updates to its PacketShaper appliances. The updates offer more visibility into Web applications and operations, as well as group and user-level policy creation and enforcement.

BlueCoatThe PacketShaper line enables organizations to go beyond normal traffic filtering. Often, and even Blue Coat’s basic offerings do this, most Web filtering products just block pre-defined categories or URLs, without offering a granular approach to IT departments. While blocking adult content or gaming categories is fine, streaming media may be an issue. For example, some products may block streaming media entirely, meaning WebEx and YouTube, unless one or the other is expressly whitelisted. Easy enough to do, but the PacketShaper appliances won’t require that decision.

Essentially, the appliance simply knows what traffic is productive and what isn’t, by leveraging a mix of homegrown intelligence, as well as pre-defined roles and policies. The granular application and operation controls, combined with the ability to set QoS policies at the user level, allow organizations guaranteed bandwidth for IT mandated applications and operations.

For example, a business could prioritize the uploading and downloading of files from while limiting those operations for other online storage sites that the company hasn't standardized on, or an organization can permit low-impact social networking like Facebook status updates, but squeeze time-wasting games like FarmVille.

PacketShaper appliances now classify Web, native mobile and mobile browser applications and their operations, providing businesses with a comprehensive view of traffic on the corporate network. In addition, they provide an aggregate view of a user's activity across all the devices they are using on the network and granular group or user-level policies that assure consistent QoS.

"BYOD, social networking and complex Web applications with business and non-business uses have a major impact on bandwidth budgets and application performance, yet businesses typically lack visibility into and control over the shadow IT infrastructures that they introduce to the corporate network," said Mark Urban, senior director of product marketing, Blue Coat Systems.

"PacketShaper is changing that dynamic by shedding light on these shadow infrastructures and giving businesses the ability to embrace these technologies and empower their employees."

The PacketShaper 9.2 software update is now available to all customers with a current service agreement. More information is available here.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.