WAN Optimization for a Better CloudFebruary 3, 2011
It’s been said that the cloud turns the public communications infrastructure into a giant enterprise backplane. No wonder, then, that so much effort is focused on shoring up wide area throughput.
WAN optimization has been with us for some time, having already proven its worth in lowering costs and increasing connectivity between central offices, remote branches and even clients/partners. But there’s a new sense of urgency these days as more and more enterprises come to realize how vital the WAN is to burgeoning cloud infrastructures.
The good news is that the coming shift to long-haul networking is being met with new, low-cost optimization technologies, putting faster throughput in the reach of mid-level enterprises. Talari Networks recently added the Mercury T750 appliance to its Adaptive Private Networking (APN) portfolio, which leverages plain old Internet connectivity to cut optimization costs by up to 90 percent. The device can accommodate up to 24 remote sites with aggregated bandwidth of 120 Mbps downstream and 60 Mbps upstream, even while providing 128-bit AES encryption. As a strictly bandwidth-focused solution, however, the T750 does not provide features like compression and deduplication found on other WAN solutions.
There has also been a distinct rise in cloud-based WAN services, which is kind of ironic. Firms like Aryaka Networks and Virtela Technology Services are delivering Optimization/Acceleration as a Service platforms that allow users to gain the benefits of a more robust WAN without the fairly sizable hardware investment required of most systems. At the same time, they offer the ability to outsource both resources and management responsibilities so they can focus on more mission-critical tasks.
The WAN may come under even more pressure if the long-hoped-for VDI market ever materializes. In addition to application data, the WAN would provide the conduit for hundreds or even thousands of desktop images, each custom-tailored to individual users. VDI proponents like Wanova are already preparing for this. The company’s new Mirage 2.0 platform incorporates what the company calls "Branch Reflector" technology, which allows one PC to serve images to others on the same local area network, effectively reducing the data load on the WAN.
At the moment, WAN optimization is all about speeding things up — applications, file transfers and the like — with the ultimate goal being to recreate the same responsiveness that people get on the LAN. Before long, however, optimization will make the transition from worthy goal to must-have necessity. At that point, we’ll probably have to stop thinking about "optimization" entirely and start focusing on minimally acceptable WAN performance.