WAN Acceleration Solutions- Best Practices

WAN Acceleration

Businesses have become more dependent on IT Services delivered over Wide Area Networks to communicate over a geographically diverse enterprise network.  Whether your WAN is based on MPLS, VPLS, or and IP-Sec VPN over the internet, optimizing network performance can offer a variety of benefits.  Besides much better performance, WAN Optimization can control the growth of bandwidth costs.  For companies that operate globally, WAN Acceleration technology can be indispensable.

There are many types of WAN Optimization solutions provided by many different vendors.  Your IT budgets are not unlimited.  So when you select a solution, you need to assure that you obtain the best value proposition.   This is a technology where one size does not fit all.

Best practices dictate that you need to make this technology decision based a metric of Performance ROI.  SD-WAN-Experts coaches our clients on the benefit of controlled bench-marking utilizing their own traffic to avoid depending on vendor sales statistics.  This is the only way to accurately compare the options provided by different vendors.  You want to measure the performance gains for the end user, for both current conditions and projected network conditions.  Only then can the IT team be confident to make the best WAN optimization selection within budget constraints.  This series of blog posts will address the process. SD-WAN-Experts would be happy to manage the select process of a WAN Acceleration solution for your company.

Vendors marketing these solutions use a variety of terms to describe the same thing:

  • WAN Acceleration
  • WAN Optimization
  • Application Acceleration

WAN Acceleration systems use a variety of technologies. The most common techniques for WAN acceleration are:

  • Caching
  • Compression
  • Data reduction
  • Latency reduction
  • Quality of Service tagging
  • Bandwidth Management
  • Packet coalescing

Caching: When a file is transferred over the WAN from the head office, a copy is cached locally so that if other users request the same file, the WOC intercepts the request and delivers it locally.  Changes made to the file are communicated across the network to always keep them in sync.

Compression: This obvious step reduces the size of the file, which reduces the time it takes to transfer over the WAN.

Data Reduction: This technique looks at files that have been cached locally and and uses references to changes in a file to only transmit the changed bytes. This can sometimes reduce data traveling over the WAN by 75%.  This technique is more effective with relatively static data or file transfers with changes.

Latency Reduction:  TCP and CIFS are very sensitive to latency due to their chatty nature, requiring two-way communication as small chunks of data are transmitted.  The next chunk will not transmit until confirmation is received  that the previous chunk was delivered correctly.  Sending a single file could require 100,000 back and forth communications.  This communication is reduced by understanding a protocol and accelerating the communication using proprietary algorithms.  Different vendors have algorithms that may be better than other vendors for different applications such as SQL, HTTP, Microsoft Exchange, SAP and/or Oracle.

Bandwidth Management & Quality of Service: can address WAN links that are over-subscribed. QoS is performed by inspecting packets and prioritizing them based on the application, source IP, destination or protocol.  For instance, email and web browsing can receive a lower priority than more critical applications such as transaction processing.

Packet Coalescing: This technique helps with packets that have large headers, by consolidating multiple packets into a single packet with one header.

The results of WAN acceleration speak for themselves.  Performance increases can be as high as 90% for some applications, though some applications may see no improvement.  Remember that not every supplier offers the same technology.  It takes expertise to determine which WAN acceleration supplier is the right one for your company’s applications.  Hire an expert to mange your procurement process and to help assure that you make the right decision and obtain the best prices.

Coming next: Five Steps to Benchmarking WAN Acceleration Solutions

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