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A Short Pre-History of Apposite Technologies

Before Apposite Technologies, there was an obscure company named Mentat.  Lost in the sands of time now, behind the scenes Mentat was the OEM provider of TCP/IP and other networking protocols to most of the operating system vendors – Sun, HP, Apple, IBM, Palm, Sony, etc.
As a developer of networking protocols, we were constantly aware of the performance limitations of TCP when running over long latency links, and we eventually developed SkyX, one of the first successful WAN acceleration products.  In 2004, Packeteer acquired Mentat to combine WAN acceleration with QoS, and was subsequently gobbled up by BlueCoat.

While we were developing protocols, we needed a way to check that they were working correctly with packet loss, out of order packets, and other impairments, and when developing WAN acceleration products, needed to replicate real-world WAN conditions, especially satellite and long distance networks with latencies that could approach a second or more.

We obviously needed a WAN emulator for our testing.  Freeware emulators such as NistNet and DummyNet already existed, but getting them running on any particular machine took days of work installing drivers and patches, and in the end, we found they often produced misleading results.   We looked at the telecoms emulators, too, such as the Adtech SX series, but besides being far too expensive, those products were focused on testing the physical network, not the network applications.

So we built our own emulator.  It was invaluable not only for development, but for support, QA testing, and customer demos.  We often carried the emulator with us to trade shows and customer sites, and it wasn’t unusual for customers to ask us where we got the emulator because they hadn’t been able to find anything suitable for their own testing.  Hmmm, we thought.

But there’s a huge difference between a purpose-built prototype system for internal use and a scalable, supportable, commercial product, and while there was clearly a need, we were far too busy trying to keep up with nearly emerging Riverbed, Expand, Perebit, and other well-funded competitors to spend time productizing a WAN emulator.

But after the acquisition by Packeteer, a few members of the Mentat team decided to leave and form Apposite Technologies to focus on making a serious WAN emulator, built from scratch specifically for the needs of enterprise IT. We founded Apposite in 2005 and released v1.0 of the original Linktropy 4500 the following year.

As time passed, the team has expanded with former colleagues and new friends, but we’ve continued our laser-like focus on making the high quality but affordable WAN emulation tools that network managers and application developers need.

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