For BlumShapiro CIO Mark Schwartz, WAN optimization means gaining visibility into the accounting firm’s network.
Two years ago, Schwartz suspected that storage area network replication between BlumShapiro’s headquarters in West Hartford, Conn., to a backup data center in Shelton, Conn., was slowing the network.
“We kept throwing bandwidth at the network, but it wasn’t giving us the performance,” Schwartz says, noting that the company’s 50-megabit-per-second pipe was almost 90 percent utilized. “It was taking a long time to do fairly simple tasks.”
The solution was to deploy WAN optimization, selecting Exinda 8860 boxes for the two Connecticut offices and an Exinda 4861  device for the firm’s Rockland, Mass., office. Sure enough, the Exinda gear confirmed that SAN replication, an auditing application and the synchronization process between servers at headquarters and notebooks of accountants in the field were choking the network. BlumShapiro’s IT group set policies to prioritize the company’s voice, e-mail and remote access traffic during the day while running SAN replication 24x7.
Instead of running at close to full capacity, BlumShapiro now consumes about 20Mbps to 30Mbps of bandwidth. “The Exinda gear gives us real-time stats on granular detail of what’s happening on the network,” Schwartz says.
Now that there’s less stress on the network, Schwartz says basic services like voice have improved. The accounting firm also uses Exinda reports for troubleshooting. For example, IT staff recently noticed that Windows Update Services were clogging the network, so they set a policy to limit that traffic.
The percentage of survey respondents who encountered challenges in delivering latency-sensitive applications such as VoIP and video to remote locations
SOURCE: “The Evolution of WAN Optimization” (Enterprise Strategy Group, February 2012)
IT departments find there are simply more applications for them to accelerate today. “WAN optimization almost became ubiquitous as organizations looked to improve the performance of data traffic from remote offices to main data centers,” says Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group. “Today, organizations are using WAN optimization to manage a new wave of applications, from SharePoint to video traffic, desktop virtualization and other cloud applications.”
Take Inteva Products, a global manufacturer of engineered components and systems for automobiles headquartered in Troy, Mich. Ahmeed B. Ahmeed, the company’s global network manager, uses Exinda products to accelerate enterprise resource planning and financial applications at multiple locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
“For the financial application alone, it used to take 11 to 15 minutes for users in Europe to download a 17-megabyte database file,” Ahmeed says. “Now, the user can open the files, upload the data, modify it and repost the data in a matter of seconds.”
Inteva deployed 23 Exinda units, placing the appliances in the company’s U.S. and Netherlands data centers, at the site of the hosted application provider and at various other branch offices around the world. Ahmeed says that while the company optimizes the cloud traffic, the Exinda solution is primarily used to optimize e-mail and file-sharing traffic.
The WAN optimization gear allows Ahmeed and his staff to set specific policies. For example, software updates and data backup run at night, while voice and ERP traffic are prioritized to run during the workday.
Today, Inteva has the hardware deployed at roughly half of the company’s locations. Budget permitting, Ahmeed plans to expand the deployment to the rest of the sites within the next few years. “We’ve had very good results where we’ve deployed Exinda,” he says. “On average, we’ve experienced a 40 percent reduction in bandwidth utilization.”
For more about WAN optimization product capabilities, see "WAN Optimization Products Change with the Times ."