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WAN Acceleration Steps Forward

The news keeps getting better on WAN acceleration, with wider connections, better monitoring and management, and a commitment by leading vendors to incorporate the technology directly into future networking platforms.

The biggest single driver behind WAN acceleration is the prevalence of 30 Mbps or wider connections between remote sites. Although this is nowhere near the multiple gig service of the local network, it allows optimization technologies to get awfully close to matching LAN performance. By using everything from disk-based data reduction, compression and TCP acceleration, it’s now possible to deliver home office functionality virtually anywhere.

And that’s coming true for mobile workers as well. Systems like the Steelhead Appliance from Riverbed Technology are being outfitted with mobile software and controllers to accelerate file transfer and applications to those on the road. The company claims it can reduce WAN traffic and transport layer roundtrips upwards of 95 percent.

Application performance monitoring is still a problem, however, because of the way acceleration boxes respond to requests locally, rather than forwarding them back to the central server, leading to an overly rosy picture. NetQoS and Cisco are working on a solution that would involve a specialized header to allow the NetQoS SuperAgent system to more accurately gauge performance. This is in keeping with Cisco’s Data Center 3.0 initiative, which includes built-in acceleration, performance management and encryption.

In an age when budgets are calling for server consolidation while remote backup and disaster recovery operations are taking up more space on the WAN, acceleration technologies will continue to play a key role in keeping far-flung operations in the loop.

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