WAN Optimization the Open Source Way - Page 2

When a full-blown commercial WAFS implementation is more than you need, consider open source alternatives using FreeBSD, Linux and a number of helpful tools.

 By Charlie Schluting
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Traffic Squeezer

Traffic Squeezer does all that and more. In addition to compression and QoS, it also provides traffic coalescing and protocol specific acceleration. Caching can be had by combining Traffic Squeezer with Squid, or even throw both WANProxy and Squid in the mix.

Traffic coalescing refers to the sending of multiple packets as one, to reduce the impact of protocol overhead and small packets. Traffic Squeezer coalesces every packet, and the benefits add up dramatically. See their documentation on coalescing for some great illustrations of how this works.

TCP and protocol-specific optimization (such as HTTP) also go a long way toward making high latency and low bandwidth WAN links more usable. Other features that may be implemented include post-optimized encryption and VoIP optimization. Traffic Squeezer is an extremely interesting project, and we will be watching to see if the scheduled features get implemented.

Legos, Anyone?

As you have no doubt surmised, piecing together a WAN optimizing cache and firewall is extremely complex. This is always the case in the open source world. The freedom to construct whatever system works best for you means it cannot be cookie-cutter-simple; the simple to use devices are likely based on Linux, and they are simple because someone chose how to construct the system for you.

With the right systems/network administrator at the helm, you can squeeze an amazing amount of performance out of 128Kb/s WAN links using open source software. Ongoing maintenance is not usually required more than once every few months, assuming the system was configured well. The choice to build or buy (or have a consultant build) is ultimately governed by your budget and time constraints. The "just make it work" solutions, and they will work fairly well, definitely strain the budget. Customized solutions can perform as well, or even better since they can be customized to your specific data needs.

When he's not writing for Enterprise Networking Planet or riding his motorcycle, Charlie Schluting works as the VP of Strategic Alliances at the US Division of LINBIT (of DRBD fame). He also operates Longitude Technologies, which offers world-wide Linux & Network support and consulting services. Charlie also wrote Network Ninja, a must-read for every network engineer.

This article was originally published on Jan 22, 2010
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