Companies constantly struggle with delivering the services that their remote offices need with in the budget constraints of the modern IT world. As more and more services are being brought back to the central data center from the edge the WAN circuits are straining to keep up. The most common short answer to this is to buy more bandwidth. This only accomplishes making the carrier happy as you are paying them more. The next most common answer is to apply QOS and class of service settings on the WAN circuit. This answer helps the remote user somewhat by getting the high priority services to the user first but these settings do not limit what goes over the WAN just gives the more important services priority. The real answer is to look at the traffic in-depth (layer 7+) and set policy as to what services can use what bandwidth.
The Bluecoat Packetshaper is a device built to help network administrators get the visibility they need to make knowledgeable decisions as to the traffic going across the WAN. The Packetshaper stands in line with the WAN circuit and can see all traffic in real time. This visibility goes beyond the application type and port being used that QOS settings can affect. Many Web Service applications use Port 80 which is also used for recreational web traffic so QOS does not know the difference. With the Packetshaper it can tell the difference between a Salesforce.com application and FOX .com providing fantasy sports games even though they are both web applications using port 80. Social Media is even more challenging as users may be encouraged to use Facebook to respond to comments from customers but the same users should not be playing Facebook games. The Packetshaper can tell the difference and apply the correct policy.
These policies not only give priority and class of service but can set guaranties as to bandwidth used. These policies can even disallow traffic if it violates corporate policies. So with policies in place all corporate services are given proper priority and the required bandwidth they need and recreational traffic is restricted so not to interfere with production traffic. This traffic restriction goes beyond the Packetshaper as it reaches out servers and user PCs to tell the machines they can only send the traffic at the reduced rate so that it does not bottle neck at the Packetshaper.
The end results are the remote users are happy as they are getting the corporate services at a productive rate. The company is happy since they did not have to buy more bandwidth. The network engineer is happy as they can now see what detailed traffic is going across the WAN.