For many companies, the number of bandwidth-heavy applications is growing, while the budget to support these workloads is shrinking. Traditionally, an MPLS solution was used to minimize latency and ensure reliability between remote locations. While easy to use, this type of solution can be prohibitively expensive for some budgets and time consuming to implement. Companies are frequently switching to an Internet connection in place of a traditional WAN link for at least one, if not many locations.
Utilizing a standard Internet connection and site-to-site VPN instead of MPLS for certain locations can save money and accelerate provisioning timelines. One downside of using an Internet connection for this type of service is the possibility of poor performance. By definition it is a best-effort type of service. WAN optimization can help solve this problem.
There are many benefits of WAN optimization. Amongst these are the consolidation of resources into one central data center or several data centers across your network. It also leads to better response times for applications, and reduces the need for a higher bandwidth commit level. Initially the technology was deployed via expensive appliances placed at both ends of the WAN connections. Over the years, providers have started to offer WAN-optimization-as-a-Service or a hybrid appliance plus service option.
A few WAN optimization options on the market:
Aryaka - They offer an affordable, easy-to-deploy alternative to on-premise WAN optimization appliances and an MPLS network. Their service is based on a global network of distributed POPs and provides application acceleration proxies for “chatty” protocols like CIFS and MAPI, data deduplication and compression for bandwidth scaling, and a specialized multi-segment approach to TCP optimization.
Riverbed – They position themselves as being in the business of providing performance improvements to networked environments. Their WAN optimization products, both appliance-based and virtual, are branded under the product name Steelhead. They differentiate themselves in the market by focusing on relationships they have with key technology partners, including Microsoft, EMC, HP, IBM, and VMware. They believe that organizations buy their product for three primary reasons - speed, scalability, and simplicity.
Silver Peak – Their WAN optimization product is the NX Series of appliances. The focus of the NX series is on datacenter-class WAN optimization to address problem areas including: data backup and recovery, data center consolidation, server and storage centralization, real-time collaboration and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). According to Silver Peak, their solutions provide benefits to all IP applications, including TCP and non-TCP applications, as well as bulk file transfer and real-time applications.
The latest Gartner magic quadrant report from March 2015 positions Riverbed and Silver Peak as leaders in the space, while Aryaka is listed as a visionary. With WAN optimization services ever-evolving and new entrants are appearing in the marketplace on a regular basis, it’s important to work with an expert that can help to carefully vet options based on what will work best for your infrastructure and budget.
For more information on connectivity options for your specific requirements and service providers in this space contact an expert here.