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WAN acceleration as a service: an outsourced solution can save on equipment costs and installation headaches.

The growing trend toward globalization means enterprises are deploying more employees in remote branch offices, and these employees may often need to collaborate with one another. At the same time, enterprises are centralizing their business-critical applications and hosting dynamic content. Security and compliance concerns are also creating increased pressure to remove data from branch offices.

As a result, the productivity of branch office employees who use centralized applications suffers because the corporate WAN is not optimized for a large number of users or large data transfers. Users may find that application performance is poor or have difficulty accessing corporate data due to the high latency of applications flowing over the WAN. Latency issues can cripple applications and the business transactions that depend on them. Using a Web application to download large content files is often so slow that the applications are useless in remote offices and for mobile workers.

Faced with poor performance that affects the bottom line and the need for business continuity, organizations once had only one option: buying more bandwidth, which does not really solve the underlying latency problem. Today, however, another option is available: WAN acceleration.

New WAN acceleration technologies have emerged that deliver performance improvements across a large number of applications. These solutions enable a network to support higher throughput and thus speed up applications, and they also support more applications to more offices over the existing WAN infrastructure.

Global enterprises that do not have an acceleration solution in place are, in essence, paying their employees to spend idle time waiting for file transfers to complete. An acceleration solution will improve the user experience and boost productivity for all users.

AN UNDERESTIMATED CHALLENGE

The need to enable effective real-time collaboration over the WAN has generated technologies and devices designed specifically to improve WAN application performance. Enterprises have begun implementing these devices but have underestimated the challenge of installing and managing them at every remote branch location. These boxes can be difficult and time-consuming to manage on a global scale, particularly for enterprises with limited IT resources.

To address the challenges of implementing WAN acceleration, some enterprises are choosing to outsource WAN acceleration to a managed service provider. These services enable organizations to improve application performance over the WAN, maximize existing resources, improve bandwidth performance and maximize productivity on a global scale, without having to add and manage new infrastructure on their own.

Enterprises interested in outsourcing should understand there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, as every network is different. Organizations should seek solution providers that are not only able to provide an accurate measurement and evaluation of WAN application performance but also practice due diligence and follow best practices.

Having a central point of contact at the service provider is key to a successful WAN-acceleration solution. This is particularly true for large networks where remote offices do not have servers, and there is limited IT staff onsite to handle daily tasks. A provider can help ease the burden of managing a large WAN-acceleration deployment by handling remote provisioning, management and post-installation performance monitoring. The ability to centrally generate network traffic reports is also important for scalability.

A provider with extensive experience in evaluating global networking solutions should have expertise in all of the available technology options and be able to select and customize the most appropriate devices for a particular environment. Regardless of which device manufacturers are chosen, one of the best reasons to outsource is to ensure getting the right equipment to augment or build a WAN-acceleration solution.

Enterprises should look for solutions providers that are vendor agnostic and have worked with global customers with varied types and sizes of networks. A service provider should also be able to fine-tune the overall configuration between locations to maximize network performance--and know when to purchase more bandwidth to improve performance.

The most scalable WAN-acceleration solutions are transparent to an enterprise's existing infrastructure.

Outsourcing a managed WAN-acceleration solution as a means of delivering LAN-like application performance over low-cost, low-bandwidth connections can provide a number of benefits. Companies can maximize the use of their existing bandwidth resources, avoid adding infrastructure, improve application performance, and improve network efficiency and security through data/ storage consolidation. They can lower costs by recouping server capacity and network bandwidth, improve application availability and scalability in support of business continuity plans, and improve satisfaction for remote users.

These solutions can reduce the impact of latency on global and remote locations by shortening transmission times for sending large files to remote sites. Lower latency and faster file transfers translate into improved employee productivity and also free up the WAN for other tasks.

Bill Dodds is vice president of sales and marketing for Virtela Communications, Greenwood Village, Colo.

For more information: rsleads.com/712cn-262
TOOLS TO ACCELERATE AND SHAPE NETWORK TRAFFIC

NO PLANS TO IMPLEMENT 25%
PLAN TO IMPLEMENT 49%
CURRENTLY USE 26%

"Source: Aberdeen Group's Network Transformations:
Managing transitions for growth survey of more than
275 enterprises, May 2007"

Note: Table made from pie chart.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Network Performance; wide area networks
Author:Dodds, Bill
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:833
Previous Article:Identity-based management.
Next Article:WAN acceleration choices.
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