By Michael Zhao, President and CEO, Array NetworksBy Michael Zhao, President and CEO, Array Networks

Getting data center architecture right is critically important to application performance. While internal data center infrastructure is an obvious consideration, external factors such as Wide Area Networks (WAN) are often overlooked, resulting in applications and services that operate well below potential. For data center architects, WAN optimization provides a proven means to ensure external influences do not hamstring data center efficiency and application performance.

When confronted with performance and throughput problems on the WAN, most IT managers’ first inclination is to throw more bandwidth at the issues. While this approach can be a valid option, in many cases the technologies and techniques included in WAN optimization controllers (WOC) prove to be an even better approach.

Essentially, WOCs allow you to use what you have bandwidth-wise more efficiently, and as a side benefit improve the overall user experience and help meet disaster recovery goals. Here are a few key areas where WAN optimization shines:

  • Data and file accessibility: Users often access the same data multiple times throughout the workday, like Oracle for purchasing, SharePoint for document management, etc. WOCs include onboard caching, which means that only new or updated data needs to be retrieved via the WAN. This can dramatically reduce response times.
  • Remote/mobile workers: WAN optimization techniques compress, streamline and secure data transmissions to and from distant locations, maximizing throughput and improving productivity.
  • Application performance: Applications will run better in general since bandwidth previously used for other processes will now be available to them. Traffic shaping can further tune performance, and protocol optimization can improve efficiency of data transfers as well as utilization of bandwidth.
  • Disaster recovery: It’s not uncommon for backups to take hours; however, de-duplicating and caching the data, along with protocol optimization, can reduce backup and replication times by half or more in most cases. Recovery time and recovery point objectives can thus be more easily met.

For data center architects faced with performance and throughput issues on external networks, and for infrastructure and operations teams in search of a holistic data center strategy, WAN optimization controllers could be an option that provides both immediate and long-term benefits – not just in terms of network performance and business continuity assurance, but in user experience and productivity as well.

About the Author

Michael Zhao brings to Array Networks more than 20 years’ worth of experience in executive roles at internet infrastructure and systems integration companies. Most recently, Dr. Zhao was founder and COO of Asia Info – a $500M systems integration company he led to a NASDAQ IPO. He is considered a major industry leader and holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo and an MBA from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.