WAN Optimization or WAN Acceleration controllers (WOCs) can breathe new life into your wide area network by relieving congestion and speeding up file transfers to make your applications more responsive. These devices are deployed symmetrically — in data centers and remote locations — to improve the performance of applications that are accessed across a network. The WAN Optimization devices are typically connected to the LAN side of WAN routers, or are software integrated with client devices. There are also WAN Optimization solutions provided as a service in the cloud. In addition to the performance improvements they provide, WAN Optimization controllers can also help to maximize return on investment in WAN bandwidth, and sometimes avoid the need for costly bandwidth upgrades. Whether your WAN uses MPLS, VPLS or IP-Sec VPN over the internet, the improvements from WAN Optimization can be amazing.
But selecting the right hardware or software vendor is complicated, because the right solution depends on precisely what kind of network traffic you have. For instance, the top name in this industry is actually the worst performer for certain network protocols. You also want to consider the choices of hardware appliances versus virtual WAN optimization solutions.
Most Common Techniques for WAN Optimization
- Data reduction
- Latency reduction
- Quality of Service tagging
- 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 uses references to changes in a file to only transmit the changed bytes. This can sometimes reduce data traveling over the WAN by 75%.
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 the WAN Optimization system understanding a protocol and accelerating the communication using proprietary algorithms. Typically, the greater the latency, the more dramatic the throughput performance improvement will be.
Quality of Service: QoS is performed by inspecting packets and prioritizing them based on the application, source IP, destination or protocol.
Packet Coalescing: This technique helps with packets that have large headers, by consolidating multiple packets into a single packet with one header.
Key Benefits of WAN Acceleration
- Optimize most common applications across the WAN up to 50x
- Ensure fast, reliable access to data and applications globally
- Provide LAN-like performance for mobile employees, anywhere
- Reduce WAN bandwidth by 65% to 95% to relieve congestion
- Grow without paying for additional bandwidth
- Provide faster connectivity for branch offices
- Speed data backups across the network
The results of WAN Optimization and Acceleration speak for themselves. Performance increases can be as high as 90% for some applications. But 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 manage your selection process and to help assure that you make the right decision and obtain the best prices.