December 05, 2011, 6:31 PM — This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.
The application layer of the Open System Interconnection (OSI) stack has long been regarded as a focal point for wide area network (WAN) optimization. Efforts to optimize application delivery were centered here because the pain was rooted in optimizing only a handful of specific applications at branch or remote offices.
But the problem has become broader. There are too many applications, platforms and versions of applications that need to be accounted for, and the list continues to grow. It has become clear we require a different approach. IT organizations must not only deploy WAN optimization to recoup valuable bandwidth for specific applications, but must deploy a solution that cost-effectively optimizes the entire application environment now and in the future, and do it without increasing network infrastructure complexities.
TECH ARGUMENT: WAN optimization hardware vs. WAN optimization services
The network experts responsible for the fast, reliable and secure delivery of applications across the WAN understand the need for optimization tools that supports all traffic types, not just certain types. They want complete control and visibility into the business-critical applications as well as the not-so-critical apps. The point is that every application is, or should be, present in the enterprise for a reason, and it's important to realize that each has the potential of adversely affecting the network.
To understand this, one needs to look at underlying protocol support. While the lion's share of network "pain" has traditionally been with TCP applications, the number of business-critical applications that are non-TCP based is growing. Voice and video come to mind, as well as desktop virtualization (VDI). If a particular WAN optimizer doesn't support the non-TCP applications, it simply bypasses that traffic. This alone should set off red flags for any network professional.