Blue Coat Intros Cloud Service For Faster Network Assessments

Dubbed Blue Coat Assessment Service, the offering allows users to do application delivery assessments remotely in less time than it would ordinarily take to deploy a Blue Coat PacketShaper, retrieve the PacketShaper and then analyze the network assessment data relevant to a sale.

Blue Coat's PacketShaper appliance is one of the company's principal network assessment tools, which when deployed offers information on performance and quality-of-service in a network's application layer. By using the PacketShaper in conjunction with the new Blue Coat Assessment Service, partners skip the step of having to retrieve the PacketShaper after it's deployed and analyze the network data, which is instead made available by Blue Coat as a cloud-based service.

Deploying the PacketShaper itself takes less than 30 minutes, according to Blue Coat, and from there, VARs can access the data remotely using the Assessment Service. What they see is information about poor application performance, bandwidth usage by non-business applications, social media applications and how often they're used and other factors that affect network traffic and drain bandwidth.

Partners who deploy an instance of the service receive a 12-page report with graphs that explains those factors and other issues specific to that customer's network.

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Eric Tooley, technical marketing manager for Blue Coat, said that when VARs are able to demonstrate the benefits of Blue Coat's PacketShaper, their close rate for new business is 80 percent. The waiting is the hardest part, he suggested.

"You have to deploy the PacketShaper, then retrieve it and extract data from it. That takes a few hours to deploy and then an extra visit to the customer to explain the data," Tooley said. "You can now deploy the PacketShaper at the beginning of the process, collect the data, log in through the cloud and look at the data. It's a light and fast way to conduct a network assessment." Obtaining that data, Blue Coat executives noted, also enables VARs to craft specific add-on services based on the types of performance issues or bandwidth-hogging applications their customers are experiencing.

"You can log in and look at the data and learn about your customer right away," said Steve House, senior director, visibility solutions at Blue Coat. "You can also come across as the hero because you can say to them, you're having these problems and I'll show you why they happen."

The Assessment Service will be available to partners on Aug. 16. Partners who use Blue Coat's Blue Box evaluation program, which provides PacketShaper appliances on a trial basis, will be able to log in to the company's Blue Source partner portal, enter their name, the prospect's name and some basic information, and receive a single, dedicated instance, along with instructions on how to use it.

Blue Coat will offer one instance of the service to each potential customer, Tooley and House said.