Cloud computing is essentially the means to extend the benefits of virtualization outside the data center walls. So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that a key component of that strategy is the wide area network (WAN).
That's the primary reason many enterprises are devoting time and money into beefing up their WAN optimization capabilities, even as the recession has forced a retrenchment in many other areas of IT spending. And while leading vendors like Riverbed and Blue Coat are expected to capitalize on this trend, we also can't help but notice the way the technology is working itself directly into the top virtualization platforms.
The latest announcement comes from Citrix Systems, which just added the Branch Repeater VPX WAN optimization system to its server and desktop virtualization portfolio. The system is part of the virtual appliance package that also includes the NetScaler VPX acceleration and load-balancing components designed to carry virtual desktops and applications to branch offices and other remote locations, essentially creating an end-to-end virtual network infrastructure capable of turning disparate resources into a regional pool.
For VM users, one of the newest add-ons is the HyperIP optimizer from NetEx. The all-software release accelerates critical networking applications like VMotion, Storage VMotion, vCenter Site Recovery Manager and vCenter Converter across the wide area infrastructure, boosting throughput for tasks like physical-to-virtual migration upwards of 1,000 percent. The package is available in a wide range of transfer speeds, from 1.5 Mbps all the way to 800 Mbps and can double as an effective disaster recovery system. The company recently added support for Microsoft's Hyper-V platform as well.
Traditional WAN optimization platforms were geared toward pushing centralized applications to distant locations, cutting down on the hardware required to keep remote employees in the loop and preventing the need for high-cost, wideband services over long distances. With virtualized acceleration, that concept is extended beyond applications and into the realm of IT infrastructure as a whole.
If centralization is your goal, then it will be hard to resist implementing a fully virtualized regional or even global infrastructure as more and more servers and desktops make the transition to the virtual layer.