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 Paul Sherry, regional director, Middle East at Riverbed
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By  Piers Ford Published  April 11, 2012

“In an emerging market like the Middle East there are plenty of companies deploying new projects,” he said. “Banks deploy new applications for their branch offices and airlines have remote offices that need to deliver consistently to their customers while reducing IT costs. Additionally, we have seen significant growth in the use of WAN optimisation by government offices.”

According to Sherry, IDC has identified a three-year return on investment of 457% on Riverbed WAN optimisation platforms, with customers getting their investment back in cost savings after seven months.

“This is because the system can improve the performance of many of the most commonly used applications across the network, typically by 5-50 times and, in some cases, by up to 100 times,” he said. “At the same time, WAN optimisation ensures fast, reliable access to data and applications for employees around the globe so that companies achieve LAN-like performance for mobile users, no matter where they are. An increase in productivity adds to the company’s bottom line, thus making WAN optimisation a necessary and cost-effective solution.”

Not surprisingly, other major vendors make similar claims for their products. Cisco’s Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) is a Citrix-ready end-to-end architecture for WAN optimisation deployment in any environment. System engineering manager at Cisco UAE, Tarek Houbballah, said it offers the “lowest” total cost of ownership of comparable solutions  backed by a validated design that scale in various scenarios.

“Fewer devices are required in branch offices, reducing the need for costly bandwidth and expensive infrastructure upgrades to facilitate optimisation,” he said. “In addition to lowering operating expenses through ease of operation, reduction in power, cooling and space consumption, and IT support, WAAS also reduces capital expenditures by minimising the number of servers required in the datacentre.”

The new generation of WAN optimisation products targets virtualisation, datacentre consolidation and disaster recovery requirements, with the technology lending itself to helping network managers to realise the benefits of more streamlined connectivity beyond the LAN.

“VDI is the classic thin client application, with connection brokers, hosts, servers and storage often located in datacentres,” said Silver Peak’s Jeff Aaron. “The further users are from these datacentres, the more difficult it is to ensure adequate VDI performance between distributed locations. WAN optimisation helps by fixing bandwidth, latency and loss issues that hamper inter-office VDI performance.
“Moving Virtual Machines [VMs] between hosts maximises the efficiencies brought forth by virtualisation, while adding an element of redundancy that transforms enterprise business continuity plans. However, it can be difficult to move VMs between datacentres when WAN performance is limited.”

“ Our WAN optimisation solution helps enterprises reap the rewards of virtualisation by overcoming network challenges that impact the performance of VM mobility across the WAN.”

Cisco’s approach to the role of WAN optimisation in datacentre consolidation centres on Datacentre 3.0, its marketing concept for realising the benefits of integrated networks, servers and applications.

“The typical client/server enterprise datacentres have highly distributed architectures with resource-intensive branches,” said Tarek Houballahh. “Maintaining such a proliferation of server platforms and operating systems not only increases operating and capital expenditure, but it also complicates disaster recovery, all of which comes at the price of business agility.

“The Datacentre 3.0 trend recentralises the data into a unified network fabric that pools servers and storage devise into one resilient, scalable and easily managed fabric. Achieving that requires overcoming two challenges: bandwidth optimisation and application acceleration. Using multi-layer optimisation and compression techniques, WAN optimisation solves such challenges by speeding up application response time, reducing bandwidth consumption and increasing server and storage usage at the datacentres.

“Consequently, datacentre resources are more available, and such high utilisation eliminates the need to have redundant resources. Datacentre consolidation reaps both the operational and business benefits of a lower footprint.”

At Riverbed, Paul Sherry said WAN optimisation is a natural technology for disaster recovery deployments.

“It is particularly useful when it comes to data replication,” said Sherry. “It makes it possible to optimise and prioritise WAN traffic, reducing replication and backup times while reducing bandwidth requirements. Additionally, by using something like our Whitewater cloud storage gateway, businesses can optimise, de-duplicate and secure cloud storage for backup and archive, and use their existing backup software.”

Jeff Aaron said Silver Peak’s specialisation in disaster recovery is one of the main reasons why it is rated so highly by Gartner in the WAN optimisation field.

“In general, WAN optimisation helps disaster recovery in three ways,” he said. “It increases replication throughput so more data can be backed up. It extends the distance between source and target locations to avoid catastrophic disasters. And it eliminates the need for dedicated networks for disaster recovery.

“By doing replication over shared networks, 50% of disaster recovery costs can be eliminated. The National Bank of Abu Dhabi is a perfect example of this. It is using our platform to optimise EMC SRDF replication over a 400 Mbps WAN that is connecting two datacentres in the UAE.”

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