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How to put new WAN Optimization form factors, QoS and Path Selection to work

Rob Whiteley, vice president of solutions marketing at Riverbed Technology | Oct. 11, 2013
WAN optimization solutions are combining tried-and-true techniques with emerging deployment, QoS and path selection techniques to meet the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce that needs to access cloud resources.

After years of consolidating IT resources as much as possible, employees are adopting laptops, smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi and 4G to become increasingly mobile. These same empowered users are also signing up for cloud services, pushing applications and data further away. The future of work belongs to far-flung employees accessing applications and data from everywhere possible, oftentimes at great distances.

Today IT needs to ensure performance and availability in an increasingly mobile and cloudy world. The good news is that WAN optimization solutions are combining tried-and-true techniques with emerging deployment, QoS and path selection techniques that allow IT to keep performance high in today's modern enterprise.

Nobody likes skilled workers sitting idle for extended periods, but that is often the case when dispersed employees cannot work because of a slow network connection or an unresponsive application. We must ensure employees get the reliable, effective, secure applications they need. After all, these handy mobile devices and the applications they access are only convenient and productive when they function with vigor.

WAN optimization must go further
Most network engineers are already familiar with WAN optimization. To accelerate a sluggish network, you typically install appliances in the data center and in branch offices. WAN optimization provides three primary benefits: 1) bandwidth reduction through de-duplication, where redundant requests for data are eliminated; 2) latency mitigation through network protocol optimizations, where inefficiencies are streamlined; and 3) additional latency mitigation through application-specific optimizations, where chatty application protocols and unique behaviors are addressed. With very little fuss, bandwidth is reduced by up to 98% and performance is improved anywhere from 50100 times, perhaps more.

But with today's decentralized and mobile workforce, WAN optimization must go further. Acceleration between a mobile user or branch office and the cloud is markedly different than doing so between the branch office and your own data center. And we must deploy techniques above and beyond de-duplication and protocol optimization because, in many cases, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications cannot be optimized by the three techniques above. There are three additional capabilities that are needed to ensure a fast and productive user experience.

WAN optimization capability #1: two new deployment flavors
Let's say, for example, your company uses cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 to deploy applications such as Exchange and SharePoint. One option is to have your own dedicated instance of Office 365 hosted by Microsoft. In this case, you can opt for a virtual WAN optimization form factor at the cloud data center that points back to your WAN optimization appliances at your offices.

But what happens if you want a true public cloud version of Microsoft 365? A virtual WAN optimization solution can't be deployed as part of the standard, multi-tenant cloud environment. In this case you'll want to opt for a cloud-based WAN optimization service.


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