Tactical Advice

Selecting the Right WAN Optimization Solution

Keep the needs of the company in mind when making a WAN optimization solution purchase.
Selecting the Right WAN Optimization Solution

The market for WAN optimization solutions is competitive, with a number of vendors offering their own mix of features and capabilities. How can network administrators sort through the options to find the best solutions for their individual needs?

Experts advise enterprises to consider a number of factors:

  • Evaluate your overall application delivery needs. For example, if an organization sends large volumes of repetitive data over the WAN, then a solution with data deduplication capabilities should be the focus. For applications that require high bandwidth, such as backup and disaster recovery systems, look to solutions that accommodate critical throughput levels.
  • Perform a network assessment. In addition to profiling applications, study overall traffic patterns and demands currently placed on the WAN. “When the enterprise does a network assessment, many people are surprised by what’s eating up their bandwidth,” says Henry Tam, product marketing manager at WAN-optimization solutions vendor F5 Networks.
  • Talk to business project managers. Network administrators often have a clear idea of upcoming IT initiatives that will likely soak up bandwidth. But if they don’t meet regularly with department chiefs, they could be blindsided by new initiatives. Foster ongoing communications with business managers to learn what new mobile applications or software as a service initiatives, for example, will be competing for WAN resources.
  • Study vendor roadmaps. Understand the growth potential of any optimization solution before deployment. Look for makers who plan to expand beyond just bandwidth concerns and evaluate WAN optimizers that include other capabilities important to the organization, such as security or single sign-on. “Look at WAN optimization in a broader, more holistic way versus just as a point solution,” Tam says.
  • Don’t forget about scalability. Determine if near-term plans for cloud computing, desktop virtualization or other strategies will bring hundreds (even thousands) of new users under the WAN optimization umbrella. If so, the optimization solution must be able to scale quickly.
    “Many enterprises that have deployed WAN optimization to some degree now want to expand it to many more offices and users,” says Prashanth Shenoy, senior manager for borderless networks marketing at Cisco Systems.
  • Plan for the unexpected. WAN optimization technology is reliable but not infallible. To guard against impaired WAN performance, choose solutions that maintain network communications even if the optimization capabilities fail.
  • Look for implementation ease. WAN optimization controllers should install directly into the IT infrastructure with one end of the network wire coming into the appliance from the router and another wire going out to a switch. WOCs should also be able to automatically identify and connect with one another, no matter where they reside on the WAN. The best products provide a central console so administrators can manage all devices from a single location.
  • Choose native support for IPv6. Although the latest Internet protocol version may not be an imperative for many organizations now, it will likely become a factor over the life of any optimization solution purchased within the next few months, Tam points out.
    “Start by developing a good understanding of each application’s performance requirements — which ones can or cannot endure some transmission delays,” suggests Paula Musich, senior analyst for enterprise networking and security at the technology advisory firm Current Analysis. “Then you can start looking for the approach that works best for you.”
Sign up for our e-newsletter

About the Author

Alan Joch

Alan Joch

Alan Joch has been an independent business and technology writer for more than a decade. His expertise includes server and desktop virtualization, cloud computing, emerging mobile applications, cybersecurity and green IT. Follow him on Twitter @alanallegro

Security

Heartbleed: What Should Your... |
One of the biggest security vulnerabilities has almost every user and every industry...
Why Businesses Need a Next-G... |
Devices investigate patterns that could indicate malicious activity.
Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Businesses Must Step Careful... |
Slow and steady wins the race as businesses migrate IT operations to service providers,...
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Mobility: A Foundational Pie... |
Other technologies rely on mobile computing, which has the power to change lives, Lextech...
Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.

Hardware & Software

Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....
New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.