Users find the secrets of WAN optimization

By , Network World |  Networking, WAN optimization

While the benefits of WAN optimization are well documented - better application performance for example, - finding the right gear can address unrelated business goals.

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Blue Coat user Michael Shisko, the director of IT for Hitachi Consulting, said his company started looking for WAN optimization gear when it switched from an Internet VPN to a hub-and-spoke MPLS WAN service. Shisko said while 60% to 70% of the company's VPN traffic was ineligible for optimization because it was to and from Web sites, 100% of the MPLS WAN traffic was eligible. The company tested WAN optimization devices from Silver Peak, Riverbed and Blue Coat.

"The response was a remarkable dud," he says. Tests showed dramatic statistical improvement in performance, but nothing that would appease disgruntled users. Typical Word and Excel response times dropped from 30 seconds to 20 seconds, but that was still too long. "[Users] didn't perceive it as being any faster. The problem was that they weren't getting LAN-performance speed," Shisko says

Performance gains among U.S. sites weren't significant enough to warrant buying the gear, but the company installed it between its data center in Dallas and European offices cutting response times on key applications down from several minutes to several seconds.

Keeping an eye on the business goal of improving performance so end users would notice, the company bought Blue Coat optimization gear just for the international sites but not others. Hitachi Consulting already used Blue Coat's traffic monitoring/shaping gear, Packet Shaper. "The Blue Coat strategy included tight integration with PacketShaper. Just raw acceleration was not the goal but intelligent acceleration was," he says.

The goal was different for Booz & Co., which was centralizing branch servers to reduce capital and operational costs, says Ted Theofanos, senior manager of IT infrastructure for the firm.

The company tested several vendors' gear - Theofanos wouldn't say which ones - but liked Cisco's WAN optimization gear WAAS because it tunneled traffic in separate TCP sessions, enabling more detailed monitoring of traffic over the WAN. It was also integrated with Cisco's Netflow system that gathers further traffic information that can identify user and applications that are blocking more important traffic.

Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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