Breaking barriers

WAN optimisation can provide solutions to the region’s bandwidth challenges and can reduce the costs of disaster recovery

Tags: Blue Coat Systems IncorporatedCisco-LinksysRiverbed Technology Incorporated
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Breaking barriers Blue Coat’s regional director for enterprise in the Middle East and Turkey at Blue Coat
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By  Piers Ford Published  April 11, 2012

WAN optimisation can provide solutions to the region’s bandwidth challenges and can reduce the costs of disaster recovery, according to some of the Middle East’s top WAN optimisation experts

WAN optimisation is on the move. In the Middle East, early adoption has mainly focused on providing a solution to the region’s unique bandwidth challenges, which remain a headache for network managers desperate to assure connectivity between remote branches and datacentres.

But even here, this basic requirement is being superseded by the rise of cloud computing, the demands of business continuity and a strong trend towards virtual desktop integration (VDI). And these trends are having a significant impact on the evolution of WAN optimisation technology and its adoption throughout the region.

Multimedia traffic is now commonplace across the WAN and with video and web content increasingly considered as business-critical as traditional data transfer, managing network latency and prioritising data flow for a variety of real-time, interactive traffic and a host of bandwidth-hungry applications and services is a priority.

“Companies in the Middle East have accentuated challenges of expensive bandwidth costs and, often, great distances to other parts of the world,” said Hussam Abusamra, regional director for enterprise in the Middle East and Turkey at Blue Coat, which supplies a number of WAN optimisation appliances and virtual appliances.

“WAN optimisation solutions that reduce bandwidth consumption can bring significant advantages. For instance, if a company has a next-generation WAN optimisation solution that can optimises video and web content, they can experience a rapid return on investment and operational savings.

“With video caching, companies only incur the cost of downloading an online video one time.

The next viewers get the video essentially for free directly from the WAN optimisation appliance.

Similarly with live video, companies can get by with a single stream to feed hundreds of viewers rather than requiring hundreds of separate ones.

“WAN optimisation is becoming a necessity in the Middle East, touching every industry. Certainly the companies with offices or locations around the globe have the most immediate need.”

“Network quality is often problematic in the Middle East, leading to congestion and high packet loss,” said Jeff Aaron, vice president, marketing at Silver Peak, which Gartner recently identified as one of the global leaders in data centre WAN optimisation solutions.

“This subsequently impacts the performance of real-time traffic, creating a need for WAN optimisation. There is high demand for bandwidth in the Middle East but large WAN connections can be difficult [and time consuming] to procure. This, too, creates a demand for WAN optimisation. In addition, WAN distances can be quite large in the Middle East, especially among international companies. This creates various latency challenges, which WAN optimisation overcomes.”

The company has the region in its sights as a rapidly developing market eager to address the challenges of managing heavy voice, video and virtual desktop traffic.

Aaron said AW Rostamani, a large holding company in the UAE that manages car dealers, construction firms, hotels and IT companies, is a perfect example of this. The company turned to Silver Peak for a solution to address poor network quality, associated with packet-loss and latency, which was impacting communication between various groups. The vendor responded with a Citrix VDI platform.

“Another growing issue is scale,” said Aaron. “In the past, WAN optimisation was reserved for a handful of smaller branch offices. Now, it is increasingly deployed in the datacentre as part of key initiatives, like disaster recovery, datacentre consolidation, data migration and virtualisation.

“This has altered the way in which WAN optimisation is deployed. It must now support higher bandwidth, higher flows and more applications than in the past. For example, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi is using Siler Peak to optimise a 400 Mbps WAN connection.

“Finally, there is virtualisation. WAN optimisation is increasingly being deployed as a virtual application which lowers costs, increases flexibility, and ensures tight integration with other key networking and storage components.”

Advertising agency Leo Burnett is a typical early adopter in the region. With a growing number of sites, it needed to address rising demand for bandwidth from employees and find a way of optimising network traffic. The main challenge was to ensure mission critical applications and VOIP services function correctly in the face of erratic bandwidth availability and high monthly recurring costs to increase capacity. The company invested in an Exinda WAN optimisation platform, supplied by local specialist distributor Computerlinks.

“By deploying this Unified Performance Management [UPM] solution, all of the core capabilities needed to effectively manage a WAN and ensure application performance for the users are incorporated into a single network appliance,” said Leo Burnett’s regional network and infrastructure director Sami Mneimneh.

“These tightly integrated capabilities include real-time monitoring, reporting, user traffic control, optimisation and intelligent acceleration.”

Paul Sherry, regional director, Middle East at Riverbed, another of Gartner’s key movers in the WAN optimisation arena, said private clouds – centralised datacentres by another name – and Software as a Service (SaaS) deployments are also driving demand for the latest generation of technology with its enhanced virtualisation and integration features.

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