Businesses today recognize that in order to grow top-line revenue they need make their business applications available efficiently and effectively in all locations. They must guarantee that all regions are working from a consistent and coordinated data set. In addition they need to be able to rapidly deploy new functionality throughout the organisation.
The rollout of new applications must be done without the downside of slow, unreliable, and unpredictable response times, which could slow user adoption and reduce user satisfaction and productivity.
These requirements present very significant challenges.
The remote branch is often the location within an organization that is closest to the end customer. As organizations recognize how improvements in customer service result in revenue growth, there is a corresponding growth in the number of remote and branch locations. As a result, the IT organization must be able to deliver the services that meet the fluid needs of the business everywhere. That presents IT with these goals:
- Facilitate and support revenue-generating activities.
- Secure corporate data either for regulatory purposes or simply to stay out of the headlines.
- More reliable and efficient data protection.
- Single consistent set of business analytics.
- Reduce and contain bandwidth costs.
- Reduce and contain IT and support costs.
Data Protection in the extended enterprise
For many organizations, the deployment of servers and storage systems at numerous remote sites is both an administrative and a security nightmare. Key challenges posed by these distributed systems include:
- Deploying, maintaining, and managing backup software and systems (e.g., tape drives and tape media) in widely dispersed locations as well as implementing media management policies for both onsite and offsite storage of backup tapes.
- Monitoring and improving success/failure rates on remote backup processes and undertaking complex data/application recovery procedures, where local IT expertise is limited or non-existent.
- Supporting business continuity plans with datacenter replication, where bandwidth may be limited or cost prohibitive.
- Ensuring protection and retention of data in line with legal or regulatory compliance and eDiscovery proceedings.
Today, leading organizations recognize that the most efficient approach to the protection of branch office data and implementation of disaster recovery for midsize enterprises is WAN-based backup and data replication. The single most challenging aspect of centralized backups/replications for extended enterprises is the bandwidth limitations (cost and throughput) of each individual remote office. The key to achieving this is getting much more value from existing data communication investments through WAN optimisation.
Wan optimisation solutions use intelligent self-learning technology to cut bandwidth usage dramatically. They aim to:
- Improve the performance of many of the most commonly used applications across the network, typically by 5-50 times.
- Accelerate operations by reducing the time required to complete repetitive operations.
- Ensure fast, reliable access to data and applications for employees around the globe. Achieve LAN-like performance for mobile employees, no matter where they are.
And just how do they do that?
Wan optimisation appliances work together to reduce network traffic in three ways:
- Data Streamlining: Primarily, data streamlining involves the removal of redundant data from WAN traffic. In place of redundant data, the network sends a reference to the redundant data that has already been stored on the remote network, which can then insert the proper data back into the data stream. The result is a significant reduction in data that gets sent across the network. Optimisation technology can recognise and eliminate duplicated data regardless of the direction in which it is sent, the user who sends it, or the application that sent the data.
- Transport Streamlining: TCP works inefficiently on networks where latency is high. Transport streamlining combines the use of TCP options and proprietary technology to reduce or eliminate the impact of high latency, limited TCP window size, jitter, packet loss, and out-of-order packet delivery in order to improve overall data transfer performance and throughput. Transport streamlining also includes the option to introduce alternative transport layer protocols, including High-Speed TCP, MX-TCP, and TCP-Westwood.
- Application Streamlining: Applications such as Microsoft Exchange, NFS and CIFS require complex and chatty interactions between clients and servers, and these chatty interactions result in slow performance in high latency network environments. Some application protocols may require hundreds or thousands of round-trip interactions in order to transfer a relatively small amount of data. Application streamlining reduces the number of round-trips over the WAN to reduce or eliminate the impact of high latency. Application streamlining also addresses any application-specific data encoding or encryption mechanisms so that data deduplication mechanisms can be applied on the original data format.
What benefits are being realised?
Greater Productivity & Improved Business Processes
- Improved performance of many of the most commonly used applications across the network, typically by at least 5 times.
- Accelerated operations by reducing the time required to complete repetitive operations.
- Faster and more reliable access to data and applications for employees around the globe. LAN-like performance for mobile employees, no matter where they are.
- Faster data transfer and completed transactions, even in remote locations.
- Take full advantage of investment in existing systems previously under-used because of performance issues. Opening these systems up to distributed employees and mobile workers.
Branch Offices & IT Centralisation
IT asset consolidation is a high-priority strategy for most enterprises in these tough economic times and centralisation is cutting capital and running costs.
Organisation that deployed WAN optimisation are now driving IT centralisation with particular focus on:
- Servers. IT is removing or consolidating servers that exist in remote branch and departmental locations.
- Storage. In order to have a more coordinated and cohesive data protection plan, IT is creating centralized pools of network storage in the datacenter.
- Desktops. The proliferation of applications and devices is creating a management headache for IT organizations. In order to simplify the installation and on-going administration costs associated with desktop applications, IT is starting adoption of centralizing this functionality into the datacenter and providing virtualized desktop and application images to the remote locations.