The WOC: WAN Optimization in a Box - Page 2
As demand for bandwidth due to video and cloud begins to outstrip supply, WAN optimization offerings from the likes of Cisco, Riverbed, Citrix are growing up to meet the need.
The technical strategies employed by WAN’s can typically include:
Compression – Lots of data flowing across a WAN can be significantly compressed, sometimes as much as 90 percent. Text-based content such as e-mails, webpages, and database results can especially enjoy high compression rates. While some applications and protocols include compression in their native behavior, many more do not. A WOC can address this problem at a global level from the edge of the network.
Caching - If 25 employees in the Houston office all request the same large PDF documents from the NYC office, transferring that same file 25 times across the WAN link is an inefficient use of expensive bandwidth. A WOC can cache frequently accessed content at the branch end, so that multiple requests incur no extra network activity over the WAN.
De-duplication – Often, multiple copies of the same file reside on the network. For example, 25 employees in the Houston office might all save the same PDF to their accounts on the server. Aside from wasting storage space, duplicate data can stress the WAN if and when remote backup jobs are executed; consuming excessive bandwidth to transmit the same files repeatedly. A WOC can identify duplicate files and replace copies with links, so that only one unique copy is stored and transmitted across the WAN.
Prioritization and other network management - A WOC can implement some of the function of an intelligent network router. Quality-of-service (QoS) algorithms prioritize time sensitive traffic over low priority data, which may not reduce total bandwidth use, but effectively improves performance and response time. Deep packet inspection (DPI) can analyze network traffic to determine its function and promote or demote it per defined traffic shaping rules.
Driven both by increasingly hungry network applications and the explosion of interest in cloud-based solutions, WOC products are a growing product niche for many vendors.
Some vendors, like Riverbed, Streamcore, and Replify are smaller companies focused specifically on WOC solutions, particularly those that address specialized needs like mobile and media. More recognizable names like Citrix, Cisco, and Juniper are diverse networking companies for whom WOC products are among a stable of offerings.
How does a business choose?
EMA’s Frey suggests that an organization who “already has a relationship with any of these three vendors… it behooves the prospective customers to consider the WOC solutions from these players.”
On the other hand, the smaller WOC vendors “have found a niche and exploited it based on any number of factors ranging from price, application support, deployment options or technology expertise that gives them an edge over incumbent players.”
Aaron Weiss a technology writer, screenwriter and Web development consultant who spends his free time stacking wood for the winter in upstate New York.